New LGB Organisation becomes a movement

If you had told me as a teenager that in my middle age a significant number of my new relationships would be started in front of a computer screen, I would have thought you'd been reading too much science fiction.

In the last few weeks, I have been drawn in through digital association to a new organisation, specifically because I am a lesbian. In under four weeks, this organisation has grown from a small organisation starting out in protest against their rights being overlooked to a movement, that is starting to spread globally.

Who am I

I am of course referring to the birth of the LGB Alliance. For the purposes of this post, let's get the formalities out the way. I am a lesbian. I am also genderqueer and identify on the more "butch" or masculine end of the spectrum. I am in no way shape or form transexual. I love my female form. I am a girl. Simply a variation of the sex that I was born as. I have no misgivings of my feminine being and status. I was also married to a transwoman for a decade. My wife was a fully transitioned m2f transexual following several years of care for gender dysphoria, hormone treatment and Sex reassignment surgery (SRS). She passes very successfully as a woman in society and causes nobody any reason to believe that she is anything other than female.

So why my "TERF" position in the big debate. Actually, I am called a TERF, only and I reiterate only because I dare to question the motives and the safety of the current changes proposed to the Gender Recognition Act and also the way in which the lines between gender and sex are becoming blurred by obfuscation in the use of complex vocabulary designed to allure and yet confuse both the young and the ignorant.

I have absolutely no problem in using the pronouns her and she when referencing my ex-wife. She, having been through a lifetime of confusion and misery reached the point where she came out with her gender dysphoria, sought treatment, walked the path with the support of the professionals and today lives quietly in stealth, with few and far between knowing that she was born as anything else. Is she a danger in female spaces? No, she is not. Is she in danger from imposters in female spaces? Yes, she is. As much as I am and my daughters and granddaughters.

My position may sound confusing to many but as I write, I will qualify my reasoning. Changes to the Gender Recognition Act, allowing people to simply "self identify" creates a lot more problems than it solves. While for me this is a really big issue about my safety as a woman and the future safety of my daughters and granddaughters, I am going to to start with the safety of transwomen.

Natural Human Variation

This change in the law truly places those transwomen who have genuine dysphoria and the resulting significant difficulty with their body image at enormous risk. The nature of the transexual has been recognised as a person who struggles to identify with the sex that they born as and seek to identify as the opposite sex. We have reached acceptance of this variation in the human condition due to decades of work by medical professionals who will, of course, have made a lot of mistakes along the way, but had they not had significant success in their research, transexuals would still be relegated to the order of freaks that they were only a few decades ago.

Nevertheless, there is now available to those who suffer this variation a remedy. Support and treatment to enable them to transition and engage with society in the gender in which they are most comfortable. Many of the people seek to simply resolve this dysphoria and move on with life accepted in their gender role. Fair enough. Many are in fact really successful having achieved this and should be respected for the effort it takes to achieve this.

In the cold harsh light of the day, there are a significant number of transexuals, mostly m2f (Male to female) that due to the late timing of their transition struggle with the physical obstacles to transition in stealth. Their voices remain deep, the facial hair continues to grow stubbornly and it is nigh impossible to reduce the height or hand proportion once adulthood is reached. Many of these transgender persons also have had to struggle with the puberty of the sex that they were born with making the dysphoria all the more painful.

Years of research significantly has indicated that transexuals have struggled with their sexual anatomy and therefore sought (SRS) surgery which until recently has been very hard to access on the National Health Service in the UK (And still is difficult to access due to the surge in demand for gender clinic resources). Anyone with half a heart must have some level of sympathy for anyone whose every waking moment involves a dissonance between body and mind.

This is where I cannot quite get my head around the so-called hundred of gender identities that supposedly exist. I am female. I am genderqueer. I wear men's clothing and masculine shoes, I'm not ashamed to admit I wear boxers underneath. My hair is short-cropped, often into a crew cut. I drink beer and am a crazy rugby fan. I don't wear makeup. I've been reminded that I'm in the ladies room at a service station. Not for a second do I identify as a man. My gender is female through and through and I was born a woman. Nothing blurred in my head about that. I am sexually attracted to women. And my coming out after suppressing my sexuality for forty years was incredibly painful.

In contrast to this, I can and do accept the natural variation that occurs in a transgender person. Not to do so would mean that my sexual orientation which in itself is a variation of the human condition moot. So I accept that there are people that have gender dysphoria and identify as the sex opposite to which they were born. And these people should be loved and respected just like everyone else.

Terminology use and abuse

Then comes the non-binary argument. Where does this place me? Because if you see the description of myself, I am quite masculine in appearance, behaviour and habits and yet I am clearly a woman and happily use the pronouns she/her in line with the sex that was assigned at birth. I am also a bit genderqueer and enjoy taking on the male role in my relationships both romantic and otherwise. I certainly am more comfortable being the provider, the hunter, the protector. Does that make me non-binary? I don't think so, because I am a girl and I clearly use my female sex as the pivotal point from which my sexuality is expressed.

The reason so many people think there are hundreds of genders or identities out there is that so many different terms have been created. Non-binary, genderqueer and gender nonconforming are used interchangeably, but more recently there has been a tendency to take minor differences in people identifying as these and to separate them in order to create new definitions separating people in these groups for what I can see as no good reason.

Human beings come with different characteristics. Some have black skin, some have white skin and others have yellow skin and there is a wonderful spectrum in between. Does this make any of them less of a human being? No of course not. Are people with brown eyes all that different from people with blue, green or hazel eyes? No. there is a variation, a natural variation, but we do not need to create more vocabulary to specifically set these characteristics aside in order to ensure that people with blue eyes that are intrinsically more sensitive to ultraviolet light and ordain them with special rights. Maybe from now on a person with blue eyes should be identified specifically as a UVsightcompromised person ....

Biology has given us two sexes. This makes life possible. Some people have a dissonance within their bodies that creates a sense that they are the other sex and this can be treated. A m2f will never give birth. A f2m will never create sperm. These problems created by gender recognition and SRS don't bother me in the least because there are infertile people of each sex anyway. What bothers me is the idea that men can give birth and that women can impregnate other women.

And this is why.

Gender Dysphoria and Anatomy

Someone who truly suffers from gender dysphoria has such issues with their anatomy as a result of the dissonance with their body that the idea of an erection for a m2f transexual is uncomfortable and the idea of a period for a f2m transexual is equally uncomfortable. For someone that has gender dysphoria, even thinking about this is exceptionally uncomfortable. So when a f2m transsexual decides to have a baby herself rather than seek out a surrogate to carry her own eggs, I start to question what is really going on here. Of course, there are a great many m2f transitioners that have had children, but when interviewed through research those that have suffered from truly disabling gender dysphoria have all spoken of mentally being somewhere else during the sex act, usually in the female role - read up on autogynephilia and how the study of it, led to the enormous progress in understanding gender dysphoria.

To my mind, if someone is comfortable using the anatomy of the sex "assigned at birth" to the extent that they wish to reproduce in that sex when alternatives are now available (unlike in the past), then there cannot be sufficient dysphoria to make them trans in the true sense of the word. I dare to say that transmen and transwomen have had their variation in the human condition hijacked by a group of radical genderqueer people. Now you may be able to see why I reluctantly use that term to describe myself! (I expect a lot of hate mail following this paragraph - just so you know your IP addresses are recorded and Proxys are bounced)

The dangers to All

Transwomen that die due to violent attack are more likely to be killed by a man than a woman. While there is undoubtedly inter-gender violence between women and from women, Men and those assigned as male at birth attack transwomen and endanger them far more than women do. For this reason, I cannot comprehend how Transwomen can allow the idea that any man can simply "self identify", as this places them at exceptional risk of attack from those many of them seek to get away from in the first place. Transwomen are raped and sexually abused by men too.

By blurring the definitions of sex and gender we are endangering our society. We are endangering women and children and we also endangering transwomen.

Sex Offenders

By allowing anyone to "self identify" as any gender without any checks and balances in place we are opening the doors to sexual predators and inviting them in. Before I start on safe spaces and defining safe spaces, I must reinforce that I believe that transwomen should have safe spaces of their own. Why? Because just like there are men out there, there are also women out there that still think that gender dysphoria is a sexual fetish. Personally, I am not afraid of being raped or sexually assaulted by a transwoman that has transitioned post-SRS any more than I am afraid of being sexually assaulted by a woman that was assigned female at birth and identifies as female. I am afraid of a person assigned as male at birth that "self identifies" experiences no dysphoria with their anatomy and expects me a woman to be comfortable with their anatomy in a female-only space. The dissenters seem to forget that male anatomy has been used as a weapon against women since time immemorial and to many women allowing this weapon into their safe spaces with no checks and balances is a complete disregard for their safety and wellbeing.

So how do we maintain safe spaces and keep the imposters out? There has been a lot of speculation on sex offenders that claim they are trans in order to get into female prisons. A sex offender is already mentally unwell. A person that thinks it's OK to sexually assault another person whether of the same gender or not and regardless of how they identify are already mentally unwell. Period.

So when the offender decides that they are going to "self identify" once they have been caught or have been "self-identifying" in order to commit an offence, this is simply a gateway to offending and further offending that is being obliged by the authorities. It is not rocket science that a violent sex offender that "self identifies" and is anatomically intact from the gender assigned at birth, should be scrutinised VERY CLOSELY. I am less concerned by offenders that claim "self-identity" after a crime of fraud, theft or something that has no relation to their gender identity although I would still argue their "self-identity" should be investigated thoroughly as they may seek to use it as a route to manipulate their sentencing.

In my opinion, a post SRS transwoman that has been convicted should be sent to a female prison. No disputing that at all.

It is really important to discern the difference between a transwoman that offends and a sex offender that masquerades as a transwoman. Why are the trans community not demanding this discernment? 

I'll tell you why - because the radical male left have discovered an opportunity to infiltrate a group to erase womanhood even that of transwomen and are doing so without any hesitation or shame, whilst those with true gender dysphoria are being silenced in their own camp.

Now, what about those that are transitioning but have not yet been able to access SRS?

Health Risks

This I believe is where the real safeguarding problems come into play, not only for women but for transwomen too. When people are allowed to self identify, then there is little way of knowing whether they have a history of gender dysphoria or whether they have another pervasive mental health condition or they are simply like me - genderqueer. The decision to allow this undermines the exceptional health needs of real transwomen, obstructs the mental health services from identifying people who have other mental health conditions that present as an identity disorder and allows for radical extremists that are on the genderqueer spectrum to be allowed to identify as whatever gender they please or none at all.

Additionally, with the introduction of self-identification, there is a huge risk that medical services to the transgender community will be compromised. All of a sudden the NHS may decide to slash waiting lists for SRS by telling patients that "now that you self identify, it's OK you're the gender you want to be, off you go." Those with gender dysphoria are already at high risk of suicide, how much more will this impact on the rate of suicide within transgender groups if self-identification is prescribed as a cure-all. What an opportunity to make cuts to a health service that in fact needs MUCH MUCH more funding.

Notwithstanding the possibility that transwomen and women will also now be exposed to men with an identity disorder that is not gender-related but as a result will not be treated because it hides behind the facade of self-identification.

The only women that have a penis are transwomen that are waiting for or seeking surgery. There are exceptional cases where surgery is not possible for health reasons., but these are a truly rare example and have my deepest sympathy. Any transwoman that is truly comfortable with her male anatomy is not a transwoman, but either a genderqueer radical or truly confused and in need of sympathetic and supportive help or a fetishist trying to access female spaces for sexual titillation. And then there are Sex offenders who will try any route to access their prey.

I always have and always will accept a fully transitioned transwoman into my space. I will also allow a pre-surgery transwoman undergoing transition with the assistance of a gender clinic into my space in order to help her complete her transition. I will not allow a person that simply self identifies and does not have body dysphoria of any type into my space and if unsure I will err on the side of caution. Many of the transwomen that I know do not want to share showers with people who are happy to expose their male anatomy to others. In fact, I have not met a true transwoman that is pre-surgery that would undress their bottom half in full view of other women around them. Their dysphoria has dictated privacy not only for them but also for the women that have allowed them into the inner sanctum of safe female spaces.

So all this shouting that "some women have penises, get over it" and "some men have a vagina"s is actually drowning out the reality of real gender dysphoria. Sure transmen and transwomen going through transition still bear these anatomical parts, but few really want to shout it from the rafters. I will never find a person with a penis attractive. My attraction is to the same sex and calling me a TERF because I will not date someone that identifies as female but has male anatomy will not change that. I don't have any issue with transwomen. I married one. The difference was that she transitioned, she settled into the female space, without asking to be special or different, by simply being a woman.

The radicals that are demanding that I find male anatomy attractive are the same radicals that are erasing my sexual identity and sexual orientation are also hurting those that need to transition into female spaces but now face resistance because they can be misidentified as men that self identify. Call yourselves whatever you want, but don't redefine what I am, you cant have it all.

If you are a transwoman with a penis that cannot access the medical help you need in order to get SRS, rather than fighting women's groups who seek to keep their safe spaces intact, why aren't you fighting for more clinics, better healthcare and sensible legal provision to keep you safe during and after transition. Expend your energies on your own health needs, which are by their very nature different to those of lesbian, gay and bisexuals. You are more likely to gain allies in men women that will empathise with your fate once you acknowledge that you suffer from the same discrimination but different issues. Those transexuals that claim they don't want or need SRS needs to be examined because you are dealing with a Trojan horse and the enemy is already within.

There is Freedom of Speech and there is suppression of different opinion. I have watched with increasing discomfort as those that differ in outlook and experience vocalise their feelings are accused of hate speech. Using accusations of hate speech to silence a different opinion is dangerous. Because I differ from the extremists in the gender and sex discussion, does not mean that I wish them harm. I wish for them common sense but harm definitely no. I do not call upon anyone else to harm or hurt them either. I certainly call on those on all sides of the debate. There should never be a call to violence to express an opinion. Trans people both pre and post-transition need to be heard and supported.

Being accused of Hate because I have set my needs aside as a lesbian from those of a transexual is absurd. But it happens every day. Activists have lost sight of the word inclusion and what it is meant to stand for. Trans people have a right to be included in society overall, they have an equal right to education, healthcare and social security. They have the same rights to economic access and the job market. What they do not have a right to is to access private spaces that others would expect to be excluded from too. In the same way, there are schools that only admit children from the age of eleven or twelve and won't accept infants - it is because they have nothing to offer infants and trying to send an infant to a high school would be inappropriate.

When a group of women come together to specifically address their problems as lesbians, as a protected group they can exclude heterosexual women. Bisexual women would be included as they engage in the same world as lesbians too. If the group is directed entirely at sexual orientation and NOT gender identity all the more so the group is appropriate for lesbians. Lesbians form groups based on their sex.

When you have a pre-surgery transwoman that seeks to enter that group, based on the fact that they are attracted to women, they are still in a space where they are dealing with their gender identity in the context of their sexual orientation. The lesbian group does not provide for the needs of this context. The transwoman has medical and health needs that the lesbians do not. In fact they have social needs that are different too. Lesbians have medical and health needs that a transwoman does not.

Arguments about men giving birth and women having penises are irrelevant. A transwoman with a penis may identify as a lesbian, but it is ridiculous to think that a woman that is naturally attracted to other women would find it either appropriate or attractive to engage in a relationship with a pre-operative transwoman. Women who do, are pansexual, not lesbian. It is conceivable and indeed I have had a relationship with a post-op transwoman. She had all the female aspects that defined her for me as a lesbian partner - soft skin, feminine features, female genitalia and she behaved like a woman.

If a transexual wants their rights defined in terms of being a transexual, fair enough. However for a transexual to demand that because I prefer female genitalia as defined by my orientation that is inherent within me to be a hate crime, I have to draw the line. Just as much as transexuals say that they cannot control their gender identity, I cannot control my sexual orientation and how I am attracted to another person. penises being very much excluded regardless of whose body it is attached to.

I love men, I was very close to my father and my brother and I are like twins, just born a few years apart. I am simply wired for sex with women requiring female genitalia. If that makes me a TERF, then perhaps we should start a TERF rights movement - because I was BORN THAT WAY! The idea that I have to change the way I was born and present naturally to satisfy other person's rights flies in the face of the very rights that they are fighting for themselves.

The single issue that I have with transwomen is that many of their activists want the best of both worlds. Are you trans? or are you a woman? Both? Oh you want your cake and to eat it too? The most successful and happiest of transwomen that I know are those that post-surgery simply identified as women and have lived their lives quietly (or not so quietly). Their needs and their world changed too. However, as transwomen they still have had to deal with male world issues, such as prostate cancer and problematic hair growth amongst a number of other issues.

That said the rights of one protected group should never override the rights of another protected group. Furthermore, the rights of any protected group should not override the rights of anyone protected or not by their status to have freedom of speech. Simply because speech is dissenting, does not make it hateful. Different views and opinions are what creates variety in our world. Just like different sexual orientation and gender identity. I fear that my opinion will make others feel threatened rather than seek to engage and explore common ground.

It is possible to have separate viewpoints and still allow a safe space for each of those viewpoints, regardless of how different they are.

I fear that those that disagree with me would rather see my sexuality washed away in an attempt to redefine their gender identity. And mine.  And certainly, I fear that definitions of myself as a protected person are at risk of being reconstructed so as to erase me. And I fear that those that truly suffer from gender dysphoria will too be washed away by this same wave of panic, anger and misinformation.

And we will all end up being criminalised for it.

 I reserve the right to change my mind. That's what democracy, freedom of speech and free thought are about.

Ruth Richards-Hill

Ruth, a free range human being and a middle aged mum of three adult children and very young grandmother to two little girls, is a glass artist, and a digital strategist, She retains the right to change her mind about anything and believes in a compassionate approach to most things, you can contact her using the contact page on this blog.