An open letter to Elizabeth Hungerford

So Elizabeth Hungerford blocks me, and there was a reason for that. But I now see she is one of those who broke ranks with the visible leadership of the “gender critical” movement over the EEOC v Harris case. She wrote an article about the case, available at https://womansplaceuk.org/2019/10/19/sex-and-gender-the-law-in-the-usa/ ; I disagree with very much of the wording, but agree with about 3/4 of the conclusions. So because of that, I am writing an open letter and hope that someone of our mutual followers – and we now seem to have some because of recent events – might convey it. (For avoidance of doubt, I do not endorse the general views of Elizabeth Hungerford or Cathy Brennan, but have a positive view of certain specific statements and actions).

Dear Ms. Hungerford,

Things got heated in debate some years ago, and I stand by the essence of what I said, but the reason for this was something I was seeing back then. Namely, that what was seen back then as the trans-exclusionary radical feminist movement was sliding towards an alliance with the Trad Right. I wrote about it at the time, though I admit I erred thinking the Right accepting it was unlikely (should have studied history much better). https://ramendik.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/the-main-real-danger-of-terf-political-alliance-with-right/

And it seemed to me that your thinking was a part of this slide.

Events now show that I was quite right on the first point, and equally quite wrong on the second one. Though the biggest surprise was, in fact, not you, it was your friend Cathy Brennan. At that time she would gladly publish, on her resource, claims of the ADF about Colleen Francis (the claims seem to have been entirely made up, Colleen apparently did nothing wrong and never exposed herself). But she dramatically turned around in perception of that shower. I do hope she eventually follows up with a reappraisal of her own earlier actions in quite a few cases.

While my position on many issues is far from yours, I actually agree with your point that protection is best extended on the basis of gender nonconformity without defining a “transgender status” category in law. Many trans activists would agree with it (if they look beyond the name on it, at least), because otherwise we get a legal question of who is “trans enough” and that’s quite a pain point in those circles (I’m not exactly spilling secrets: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/yes-youre-trans-enough-to_b_9318754 ). The discussion of change of legal sex is separate; even if it is available based on self-ID, any “trans protection” extended only to those who change legal sex would be woefully inadequate.

And personally, I also believe that in general defining categories in law is not a great thing in general, when we can do without.

I confess that I earlier had grave doubts about same-sex marriage on the basis that it would create a separate category of “gay people” and a separate form of marriage for them (a setup that, as I now realize, would also have screwed over bisexuals and other people in same-sex couples not identifying as gay). But Justice Kennedy wrote a new coherent definition of marriage without breaking people into categories, I realized this definition fits a liberal society much more than any of the old definition did – and happily came to support it.

So – there is, with a big gap, still some stuff in common. And, I hope, also a common understanding that a very significant part of what is now “gender critical feminism” was for quite some time sliding into the arms of outright bigots. (We might disagree on the length of such time, though – I think the roots were right there in Janice Raymond’s original book, with her willingness to invoke “moral mandate” at the time of the ascending “Moral Majority”. You probably do not think so. But by 2013 it was all in plain sight).

This understanding is what brought me to the shift in tone that led to a breakdown in communication. I was wrong about personalities, and it is one of those cases when one is glad to have been wrong.

Of separation of church and state

I believe in separation of church and state. Both ways.

The state should not tell the church whom to consider men, women, ministers, eligible for marriage, and what not. The only exception is if the church would facilitate crime, such as concluding a marriage between persons where sexual union between them would break age of consent laws.

The church, in turn, should understand that the state’s definition of men, women, marriage, mother, father and what not can be different from the church’s. Roman Catholics had to learn this lesson way before the present debates – when states permitted divorce and remarriage. So if A was married in a Roman Catholic church to B, divorced B in a court, then married C, A is now married to B in the eyes of the church but C in the eyes of the state. We’ll come back to this example later.

These discrepancies are natural, because in the modern Western state the laws come from the People – or, like in the UK, from the Monarch but by democratic control. On the other hand, rules of the church (or mosque, or synagogue, or coven) come from a deity or deities in the way that the church (etc) believes. In particular, in Christian churches they come from the Lord, inasmuch as we believe we can understand the Lord’s will. Of course, the will of the People and the will of the Lord will sometimes diverge, that’s what free will is about.

(And of course any particular judgment about the will of the Lord can also be wrong, but that’s a huge separate debate.)

There are thorny issues at the borders of this separation. So I’ll put in some opinions on those.

To start with. anything that is being done commercially is on the “state” side of the separation – end of story. Jesus Christ said “freely you have received, freely give”; He was famously not very happy about sellers at the Temple. So no exceptions in anti-discrimination law for Christian (Jewish, Muslim, etc) bakers or hoteliers because of their religion. But if someone receives people in their home (or other property) for free or makes a cake for friends etc, the law does not apply. This also means the church can run its own guesthouses/hostels with whatever segregation they fancy – but they have to finance those by voluntary donations.

(This does not mean I always approve of every anti-discrimination decision. I very much agree with the UK Supreme Court on the Ashers case. Nobody can be forced to express a political view – and same-sex marriage is a political question, in fact, a few miles down the road a referendum campaign on it was going on at the time). It’s just that this question is still on the state side of the separation wall; whether anyone involved was Christian, Shinto, or Atheist does not change the situation.)

Also, anyone agreeing to take a State position must obey the laws of the State or leave the position. That’s the Kim Davis case. I really felt for Judge Bunning, who was adjudicating the case, as he is Catholic and I imagined he had to sign his name to a lot of divorces (see example above). I found just now that this was not so: he is a federal judge and US legal tradition keeps federal courts out of family law. Yet I assume many other Catholic judges, who sit on state benches, do sign their names to divorces.

I would argue, moreover, that in business (commerce!) the state can enforce pronouns, recognition of marriage and the like – all because this is on the state side.

There is a further issue, however – of social life of people from certain religions. Some want to cover their faces in public. Some want sex segregation in pretty much everything, like swimming etc; and trans exclusion with that of course.

I think this one is the most tricky, but it is my view that religions who want to push such rules on people should pay for the resources. Yet on the othe rhand the state should not be obnoxiously making rules just to make religious life harder.

Secular schools, or schools with any state financing, should not permit face-covering, as the Western mode of socialization involves seeing the face. BUT: there is exactly zero reason to disallow headcoverings or to disallow body-suits for swimming, whether they are called “burkini” or not. (Except when there is a specific safety reason, but that’s rare).

I would say sex-segregated trans-exclusive swimming, gym, etc sessions can be provided in private establishments, at least if they are booked in entirety by a religious group and then spaces are allocated non-commercially (thus getting over the separation wall). I would even stretch this to provision by the establishment for a primarily religious audience, but then the establishment has to announce the trans exclusion (and justify it by the religious audience, there’s special exception in laws for that).

But no taxpayer funded segregation for religious practices. The only taxpayer funding to religion can concern maintenance of historical buildings. And even there some questions exist as to use of buildings so financed…

In fact, this is how I would resolve the same-sex church marriage conundrum. If, and only if, taxpayer money goes into maintenance of the building, or as in England the state (or Crown) outright owns the building, why not require the church to *rent the building out* outside service hours on a Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory basis? They already rent them out for concerts anyway.

(If an organ is present, the rules would probably require that the parish organist have first refusal on the job, but the organist should never be forced to play – they might not agree with the ceremony or merely have other appointments. My wife is a very good organist and would play for anyone for a reasonable fee, but her schedule can be chock full. If the organist refuses, the organizers of the ceremony should get another organist).

No church ministers are involved, no church doctrine is compromised. The ceremony is to be clearly advertised as held, say, by the Humanist or Unitarian or MCC or whatever other group, *in the building of* St. this-or-that. By the state mandating this as strings attached to maintenance money, the question of church responsibility for the decision is resolved. People who want the beautiful surroundings and, fi present, the organ music get their wish. The church keeps its faith. Win-win?

A debater’s guide to the “declaration of women’s sex-based rights”

This will be a long post. With headings.

I wish I could go to Edinburgh myself, but I can’t afford it for work/monetary/family reasons. So I hope to contribute to the response by helping those on the front line with my “research” results. (In the internet or journalistic, not scientific, meaning of research)

Anti-trans activists present a new document – thoughts on progressive response actions

In events in the UK, and possibly elsewhere, a document called “Declaration of women’s sex-based rights” is being presented at events. The document can be found at https://www.womensdeclaration.com/

This document contains a very conservative agenda that is primarily aimed against transgender people (to be more exact, transgender women; trans men are mostly ignored). The events tend to include well-known anti-trans activists, like the journalist Julie Bindel, known, among other things, for coining the highly offensive phrase “trans taliban”. As I write this, an event is upcoming at Edinburgh, but it’s probably not the last.

Some people call for venues, notably universities, to “no-platform” these events. I am not sure if this is a good response; I personally don’t like no-platforming. But I also think debate on no-platforming is moot, as calls for it are not likely to succeed.

Among other things, universities are under pressure from the Conservative government to show a commitment to the government’s vision of academic freedom and freedom of speech. They might well be allowing anti-trans events as the least-harmful-possible way to meet this obligation. They might reason that there are less hate crimes against trans people than against targets of other similarly “silences” events, such as immigrants, Muslims, or Jews.

The above is pure conjecture, and simply one explanation for the apparent fact that no-platforming is unlikely and events will go ahead. It is my view that, alongside protest, the events should be met with well-prepared tag teams going inside and making good use of Q&A time.

Why debate? And who should be in it

We are not talking about convincing the speakers! But I think it is essential to present to any onlookers, both live and recorded, what is actually going on, what misinformation is being spread, what forces benefit from (and ultimately drive) the misinformation. The anti-trans activists and, more importantly, the big conservative international organizations that actually benefit from such activism will be using the events for propaganda. Exposing the lies undermines the propaganda.

Moreover, *if*, as some suspect, the speakers turn into outright bullies to suppress well-thought opposition, the propaganda is undermined too. However, if the opposition is seen as shouting or rambling and the speakers can preserve an image of “calm and rational”, the propaganda is strengthened. It is therefore essential that people who are able to present a smart, calm, collected, “rational-looking” image under pressure join the debating teams. Yes, socially privileged people (like most of the speakers!) are more likely to be like that. So this may be “the job for allies”.

None of the actual beneficiaries have women’s rights, in any progressive meaning of the word, at heart. It is important that the claim of anti-trans activists to speak for women, to represent interests of women, to act in the interests of “women as a class” not be allowed to stand. Because of this, participation of cis women who support trans rights in debating (as well as protest) is of utmost importance. Their visibility undermines the key message of the anti-trans activists. Besides, if the pro-trans debating team consists of cis men and trans people, the cis women speakers might play “oppressed” by the questioners because of “sex class” – despite the obvious fact that the particular speakers are in a position of privilege.

I do understand that for many trans people it is distressing to hear that their own existence, their social classification in the categories that are essential to their survival, allegedly violates someone’s fundamental rights. And so I perfectly understand it when they prefer to stay away or to take part in protests outside. However, in the UK (and any country with similar laws) it may be much better if at least one trans person is inside, clearly identified as a trans person. This person does not need to debate, their mere presence makes it possible to apply a UK hate speech law.

The UK Public Order Act has the following relevant sections, quoted without the penalty parts:

==

4A Intentional harassment, alarm or distress.

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he—

(a)uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or

(b)displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,

thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.

(2) An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the person who is harassed, alarmed or distressed is also inside that or another dwelling.

(3) It is a defence for the accused to prove—

(a) that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling, or

(b) that his conduct was reasonable.

5 Harassment, alarm or distress.

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he—

(a)uses threatening or abusive words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or

(b)displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening or abusive,

within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

(2)An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the other person is also inside that or another dwelling.

(3)It is a defence for the accused to prove—

(a)that he had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, or

(b)that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling, or

(c)that his conduct was reasonable.

==

These clauses require the presence of a person “likely to be caused harassment, alarm, or distress”. I would argue, for example, that this requirement is the only reason Sheila Jeffreys was not prosecuted for calling trans women “parasitical” in the meeting in Parliament buildings by invitation of David TC Davies. The meeting was “female only”, no trans people were allowed in.

Of course, not every trans activist is Sheila Jeffreys. But Julie Bindel and other Daily Mail contributors (like Julia Long) might turn this nasty too. Yet if a trans person is present, they are far less likely to do so, as they are aware of the law. If they opt to not self-moderate and do cause the trans person harassment, alarm or distress, the trans person should talk to the police.

Of course, recording should be done – both for police use if it comes to that, and for public release, especially if the anti-trans activists release an edited version. I would suggest one open recording and one covert recording using a phone – in case the speakers demand that open recording cease (they can’t take phones off everyone). Following their support for an Evangelical vicar secretly recording a Mermaids training session, they can not meaningfully object to covert recording.

But, to reiterate, it is very important that the progressive side actually looks better on this recording. This is primarily a matter of public perception, not of direct engagement; if (and that’s an “if”) the speakers refuse to discuss meaningfully; it’s better to be seen as “bullied but stoic” than as “triggered”.

What the “declaration” actually says, and what movement it is a part of

Of course, the speakers might object to the designation “anti-trans activists” and refer to things like “I want to keep the GRA as is” or “I am not saying transwomen are men; transwomen are transwomen” (spelling as they would do it) or “gender might be important but we must keep sex as a meaningful category for certain purposes”. But they are presenting this document. So we must always point to what the document actually says.

And the document does not acknowledge anyone trans as in any way valid. This is not about any self-ID questions. The document claims outright that “woman” must be defined as a reproductive class, and that all trans women are “men who claim a female ‘gender identity'”. Moreover it declares all forms of inclusion of trans women in the category of “women” to be discrimination against women.

The document never explains how inclusion can be discrimination. But this logic, even though it is “baptized” into a form of feminism, is deeply rooted in socially conservative activism. The right wingers, for example, claim that extending marriage to same-sex couple alters the position of all married couples, somehow making things worse for them because of inclusion.

So anyone presenting this document needs to be held to account for this document. For calling all trans women “men” and all trans inclusion “discrimination”.

It is important to understand, however, that this is not mere pretense. There is a long-standing socially conservative tradition of interpreting human rights. Quite a few people do believe in it. And while some anti-trans feminist-identified activists would claim they are not a part of this tradition, political actions speak louder than words.

Most prominent representatives of the conservative human rights tradition are, of course, pro-life/anti-abortion activists. And it would be wrong to write them off as just “men” concerned about “controlling women”. For example, in Alabama, primary movers of the recent draconian law are Governor Kay Ivey and Representative Terri Collins. They are unlikely to want to bring women back into the home or anything.

Instead, they are likely to believe, sincerely, that an unborn human has rights since conception. And/or to target votes of those who believe so. This concept of rights is the foundation of the modern Western anti-abortion movement.

Discussing the merits, and otherwise, of this view is beyond this post. My point is to show that it exists; that Western social conservatives do believe they care about human rights.

And in this context they have turned their attention to “women’s rights”, as they see them, and to “protection” of these rights from “gender ideology”. Notably, in March 2019, the Vatican held three “fringe events” at the UN about protecting the rights of women, the way it sees them. One of them as exactly about “gender ideology”, and has nearly everything in this declaration. https://zenit.org/articles/un-holy-see-presents-three-events-promoting-rights-dignity-of-women/

Ostensibly this declaration has nothing to do with the Vatican (etc), and the words “gender ideology” are not used. But the general reasoning is largely the same, it is a part of the same movement, it pushes the same political aim.

The abundance of signatories from Russia, despite the fact that trans rights in Russia nearly don’t exist and no woman could “feel threatened” by “men in her sports/toilets” there (for absence of such), might not be coincidental. Russia’s government is openly pushing for removal of LGBT from public life, as open LGBT existence in its view violates the rights of children (criminalization in private life among adults is not proposed). So Russian support for such measures is not a conspiracy.

What international human rights law actually is

So, this “declaration”, while pretending to “reaffirm” the rights of women established in international documents (notably CEDAW), actually promotes a fringe conservative interpretation of such rights. It is very important to point out what the rights actually are, as interpreted by statute. For this reason, I strongly recommend reading the documents mentioned/linked below; a brief overview does not really do them justice.

CEDAW has a statutory body that interprets it, the CEDAW Committee. Importantly. it is not activist/expert organization (like Amnesty international) – it is a body established by CEDAW itself. The reading of CEDAW by the Committee is the only internationally acknowledged reading.

The Committee issues General Recommendations, which are authoritative in how CEDAW is applied. Of these, the key document in this issue is General Recommendation 28: https://www.refworld.org/docid/4d467ea72.html .

Issues in 2010, it introduces the term “gender” and clearly states that the CEDAW covers gender-based discrimination against women. Paragraph 5 explicitly explains why, despite only “sex” being mentioned in the Convention text, gender is covered.

And then there is paragraph 18. intentionally misquoted, via misquoting General Recommendation No. 35, in the “declaration”. The “declaration” says:

==

However, the concept of ‘gender identity’ has enabled men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ to assert, in law, policies, and practice, that they are members of the category of women, which is a category based upon sex.

​The CEDAW General Recommendation No. 35 notes that, “General recommendation No. 28 on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of the Convention as well as general recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice confirms that discrimination against women is inextricably linked to other factors that affect their lives. The Committee’s jurisprudence highlights that these may include…being lesbian.” (II, 12).

==

Here is the actual paragraph 12 of General Recommendation No. 35:

==

General recommendation No. 28 on the core obligation of States parties under article 2 of the Convention as well as general recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice confirms that discrimination against women is inextricably linked to other factors that affect their lives. The Committee’s jurisprudence highlights that these may include ethnicity/race, indigenous or minority status, colour, socioeconomic status and/or caste, language, religion or belief, political opinion, national origin, marital and/or maternal status, age, urban/rural location, health status, disability, property ownership, being lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, illiteracy, trafficking of women, armed conflict, seeking asylum, being a refugee, internal displacement, statelessness, migration, heading households, widowhood, living with HIV/AIDS, deprivation of liberty, being in prostitution, geographical remoteness and stigmatisation of women fighting for their rights, including human rights defenders. Accordingly, because women experience varying and intersecting forms of discrimination, which have an aggravating negative impact, the Committee acknowledges that gender-based violence may affect some women to different degrees, or in different ways, so appropriate legal and policy responses are needed.

==

As you see, “being transgender” is explicitly mentioned in the very paragraph they quote, only they excluded it from the quote! It appears, therefore, that the CEDAW Committee, which is the official authority on CEDAW, treats trans women as women.

In G.R.28 these statements are in paragraph 18, which does not have “transgender” but has “gender identity”:

==

18. Intersectionality is a basic concept for understanding the scope of the general obligations of States parties contained in article 2. The discrimination of women based on sex and gender is inextricably linked with other factors that affect women, such as race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health, status, age, class, caste and sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination on the basis of sex or gender may affect women belonging to such groups to a different degree or in different ways to men. States parties must legally recognize such intersecting forms of discrimination and their compounded negative impact on the women concerned and prohibit them. They also need to adopt and pursue policies
and programmes designed to eliminate such occurrences, including, where appropriate, temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and general recommendation No. 25.

==

There is another statement in the same G.R.28, which is also very important for this debate. There are numerous claims in the “declaration” (and in that brand of feminist-identified activism in general) that it is important to maintain a distinct biology-based social designation of women in order to counteract oppression of women. But here is G.R.28:

==

22. Inherent to the principle of equality between men and women, or gender equality, is the concept that all human beings, regardless of sex, are free to develop their personal abilities, pursue their professional careers and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. States parties are called upon to use exclusively the concepts of equality of women and men or gender equality and not to use the concept of gender equity in implementing their obligations under the Convention. The latter concept is used in some jurisdictions to refer to fair treatment of women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment, or treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.

==

A clear public designation looks exactly like the gender equity approach, which is, indeed, the preferred approach of most radical feminists (including those who are against trans rights). But this approach is explicitly rejected by the Committee, which instead elevates the “liberal” approach of “equality between women and men or gender equality”.

I do recommend a full read of G.R.28 at https://www.refworld.org/docid/4d467ea72.html . It is also nice to read G.R.35 at https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CEDAW/Shared%20Documents/1_Global/CEDAW_C_GC_35_8267_E.pdf

It might be good to bring these documents up at Q&A with important quotes, and to ask the speakers how their interpretation is in any way compatible with that of the CEDAW Committee.

As the events are happening in Europe, European international law is also pertinent. Brexit, in itself, would not alter the position of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK. And these decisions, nost importantly the Nicot decision, establish that a state must enable a change of legal sex upon diagnosis of gender dysphoria (not treatment, not surgery). An overview of all ECHR cases on gender identity is at https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/FS_Gender_identity_eng.pdf

It might be good to ask the speakers if they believe that the European Court of Human Rights is promoting discrimination against women, as the “declaration” states that inclusion of trans women in the legal category “women” is such discrimination.

Discrimination what?!

Last but not least, it is interesting what this document declares to be “discrimination”. I already covered the most general point – that it somehow interprets inclusion as discrimination, a trick well known among social conservatives. But some other claims of “discrimination” merit a mention.

The “declaration” states: “Maternal rights and services are based on women’s unique capacity to gestate and give birth to children. The inclusion of men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ within the legal category of mother erodes the social significance of maternity, and undermines the maternal rights for which the CEDAW provides.”

Nothing about maternity is “capacity”, maternity, in this sense, is a relationship between a particular mother and a particular child. In UK and Irish law, the child’s mother is the one who gestated the child, which is one way to handle any surrogacy conundrums. In this way, a trans woman can not, at present, be a mother. However, an adoptive mother is often known as a mother; a “second female parent” (legal term) in a lesbian couple with the mother is also often known as a mother. If they can be mothers in a certain sense (social and in limited cases legal) without gestating the particular child, so can a trans woman.

The following statement in the “declaration” starts with a genuine debate but then quickly brings in an apparent absurdity:

==

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) states that,

“The explicit recognition and reaffirmation of the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, in particular their own fertility, is basic to their empowerment’’. (Annex 1, 17)

​This right is undermined by the use of ‘surrogate’ motherhood, which exploits and commodifies women’s reproductive capacity. The exploitation and commodification of women’s reproductive capacity also underpins medical research which is aimed at enabling men to gestate and give birth to children.   

==

It is a long-standing debate whether commercial motivation for surrogate motherhood, or even social pressure in case of altruistic surrogate motherhood, negate autonomy of the particular woman serving as the surrogate.

But research which is aimed at enabling trans women – or even men – to gestate and give birth is not in the same category. It does not threaten the autonomy of any particular woman in any discernible way. Instead, this seems to be a reference to “women as a class” controlling reproductive facility. However, many cis women support this kind of research – so even the “as a class” reading, which is obviously NOT the intended reading of the Beijing Declaration, fails.

Anyway, the policy proclaimed for this issue is: “States should recognize that medical research which is aimed at enabling men to gestate and give birth to children is a violation of the physical and reproductive integrity of girls and women, and is to be eliminated as a form of sex-based discrimination.” (Article 3)

This position, which can be described as Luddite (full of hatred of technology), does not seem to make sense, as no girl or woman is “violated” in any way. But it is actually another socially conservative claim – that men and women have “natural” reproductive rights of their own sex, and giving someone “rights” of “the other sex” should be illegal. This view can be seen in some conservative social media accounts but, of course, not in any international legal documents.

Moving on. The “declaration” states:

==

Organizations that promote the concept of ‘gender identity’ challenge the right of women and girls to define themselves on the basis of sex, and to assemble and organize on the basis of their common interests as a sex. This includes challenging the rights of lesbians to define their sexual orientation on the basis of sex rather than ‘gender identity’, and to assemble and organize on the basis of their common sexual orientation.

​In many countries state agencies, public bodies and private organizations are attempting to compel persons to identify and refer to individuals on the basis of ‘gender identity’ rather than sex. These developments constitute forms of discrimination against women, and undermine women’s rights to freedom of expression, freedom of belief, and freedom of assembly.

==

These two paragraphs actually contradict each other. The second paragraph claims an absolutist doctrine of freedom of belief and free speech (while carefully avoiding the term “free speech”) – prohibiting even the employer (public or private) from enforcing pronouns/descriptions. This reminds one of the case of Kim Davis, who claimed “freedom of belief” to try and avoid issuing same-sex marriage licenses as part of her job. A marriage license is surely not less “speech” than a pronoun!

The paragraph before it, however, makes a mockery of free speech or freedom of belief. It makes “challenging” the rights of lesbians to define themselves in a certain way a problem. Yet this “challenging” is mere speech, claims on some social media accounts and a few publications. There is no legal policy, actual or proposed, that would somehow restrict any lesbian from defining her own orientation in this way.

So, while making some organizations merely “challenging” self-definiton of some lesbians into a big issue, the “declaration” would want to *prohibit* other lesbians from defining their orientation in a trans-inclusive way. “This should include the retention in law, policies and practice of the category of woman to mean adult human female, the category of lesbian to mean an adult  human female whose sexual orientation is towards other adult human females, and the category of mother to mean a female parent; and the exclusion of men who claim to have a female ‘gender identity’ from these categories.” (Article 1).

Conclusion

There are many, many more issues with this document. It is tremendously repetitive. Being based on false premises, it, of course, containing a falsehood at most every turn. (For example, it wants to insist on limiting “temporary measures” to “only the persons of the female sex”, while G.R.28 paragraph 18 explicitly mentions gender identity as one of the “intersecting forms of discrimination” to which the special measures can apply).

But I would not expect it to be possible to pick the entire document apart in a Q&A session. Rather, I think that prepared questions from a strong and diverse “tag team”, based on the key falsehoods of the document (which I hope I have covered), can do a lot to counter the insidious reactionary propaganda that the speakers spread, and that, willingly or not, only works for socially conservative international movements, and does exactly nothing positive for women’s rights.

After all, what group’s rights were meaningfully and succeffully promoted by reifying absolute segregation?

Response to a Blanchardist

Saving here in case the comment is never approved. Was commenting here: https://surveyanon.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/triangulating-autohomosexuality

I think you are continuing a confusion that was kinda understandable in the 70s or 80s when Blanchard was active, but should realy be consigned to history.

Namely, you take everything that arouses a person and throw it into the same bin under “sexual attraction”. This makes arousal by own body being feminine “autogynephilia”. by own body being masculine “autoandrophilia”, and you assume it has the same nature as attraction to other bodies, with some form of “location error”. Therefore you expect a correlation with sexual orientation. And you don’t get it.

My suggestion is you don’t get it because the entire model is wrong. There never was an “erotic target location error”. There never was an “erotic target” in one’s own body. Rather, there is a separate erotic variable, different from erotic desire for others (which is modelled by the orientation system). Namely the erotic self-image.

We will start with typical cis heterosexual men to explain what it is. These men desire women. However, they also desire to be seen as manly, possessing strength and prowess. Flattery about the man’s manliness and prowess is a rather stereotypical skill expected from female sex workers, for example. The nature of desiring manliness/prowess is also erotic, but is different from erotic desire for others; these men are not homosexual, and usually not bisexual either.

In fact, even back in Blanchard’s time an erotic-natured fantasy of a hypermasculine transformation existed and was aimed at cis heterosexual man. i mean the comic series named “The Incredible Hulk”. Imagining oneself as very strong and muscular and intimidating, free of the entanglement of complicated thought, and yet ultimately “good” was a feeling very successfully marketed. Pop culture outpaced sexology at the time, and Blanchard apparently failed to notice The Hulk.

So, a typical cis heterosexual man can derive erotic satisfaction from seeing oneself as super manly – while still desiring women. Why can’t, then, a male person with pre-existing dysphoric tendencies, whether or not “crossing the threshold” of an outright dysphoria diagnosis, similarly derive erotic satisfaction from seeing oneself as ultra feminine, “Barbie” to stay in US pop culture – while still desiring others, whether women or men? If the Hulk-fantasist is not experiencing “autoandrophilia” why would the Barbie-fantasist be experiencing “autogynephilia”?

A move to cis women in this discussion is made complicated by cultural stigma against strong female sexuality. I would even suggest that most of the alleged difference between women’s and men’s sex drives is cultural, not biological. So it is harder to get the underying eroticised feelings of most women about their bodies. However, kinky cis women often do experience sexual pleasure from being hyper femme – without any reference to partners, and without necessarily being lesbian. (Of course, some modern studies raise the question of whether 100% heterosexual cis women even exist at all).

I would really hope someone like Contra would get some of these kinky cis women on their YouTube channel and interview them about their erotic feelings related to their own bodies. This would tear another one in the old, dated Blanchardist system. which fails to recognize that self-eroticisation is not an “error”, not even a separate “target”, but a normal, organic part of human sexuality.

The book is there to throw: a German precedent for Birmingham

With certain forces in Birmingham stirring up a rebellion against sexual orientation an gender identity education at school, it might be time to remember a certain German precedent. However, there is pretty sparse reporting of that precedent in English, and ,much of what does exist comes from bigoted sources. So I decided to make a summary, based on both English language and Russian language sources. Of course, someone who can read German could probably do a better job, but in the absence of that, I hope this one will suffice.

The start were eight families in Salzkotten, Westphalia, Germany. All “Russian German”, the descendants of German colonists in Russia. The colonists were deported to Siberia in Soviet times (mostly during the Second World War), and many of them developed a strong and conservative Christian faith as either conservative Lutherans or Baptists. As far as I can understand these particular families were Baptists.

There is a claim, attributed to one of the fathers, that the first “conflicts” between parents and the school started in 2005. The parents objected to “Sexual Erziehung”, sexual education, lessons.

I could not get an exact date of when “push came to shove”. IT happened when the school wanted to involve all the children in a theatrical production called “Mein Körper gehört mir” – “My Body Belongs To Me”. The bigoted sources claim the production was “teaching young children how to engage in sexual intercourse”. I would surmise a somewhat different meaning from the name of the production.

The parents pulled their children out of the lessons and production.

The local authorities fined them for truancy.

The parents refused to pay the fine, claiming they were acting justly.

And then Germany showed what it can do. It JAILED them. I could not find the actual jail terms, presumably rather short.

The parents sued, and it went all the way to the highest Federal German court – which stayed the line, making a clear statement that would not be out of place in British ears right now. Namely, that the state has an interest in using the education system to suppress development of of Parallelgesellschaften or “parallel societies”.

(Caveat: I’m using secondary sources here and the term “suppress” might not be an exact reflection of the ruling).

The parents went on to the European Court of Human Rights. And that court ruled in favour of the German state, saying the complaint was “manifestly ill-founded”.

They tried public protests too, especially in 2014 when what they call “gender ideology” (sexual orientation and gender identity) was added to the sexual education. The police did not suppress the protests but it is claimed police turned a blind eye while the local LGBT activists did some direct action. The highest claimed number at a protest I could find was 500, in Cologne.

Germany stood fast. Germany won. Even with the recent arrival of many migrants, everyone knows you send children to sex education as ordered. Or else.

In fact, in 2017 another Russian-German family, named Martens, apparently with all of 10 children, ended up leaving Germany for Russia because of “immorality” of sex education. Two months later they went back as they could not handle the material realities of life in a Russian village, but then in later 2018 they went back, as this time they were offered a good house to live in. For all I know they are still in Russia.

I say, learn from Germany. Rely on the ECHR precedent. And if anyone wants to go live in Russia or in Lebanon, they are very welcome to do so; nobody (except those convicted, or being prosecuted/tried, for major crimes – of which truancy is not one) should ever be prevented from leaving a country

LINKS:

ECHR decision https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/app/conversion/pdf/?library=ECHR&id=003-3681421-4188471&filename=003-3681421-4188471.pdf

English-language sources (all fairly dubious in ethical positions)

https://ionainstitute.ie/court-rules-against-parents-who-objected-to-compulsory-sex-education/

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gay-activists-hurl-feces-at-german-parents-protesting-pro-gay-school-curric

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/germany-jails-eight-christian-fathers-for-removing-children-from-sex-ed-cla

https://russia-insider.com/en/family-hounded-out-germany-liberal-extremists-settles-russia/ri22580

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2017/02/27/after-3-months-in-rural-russia-german-sex-refugees-return-home-a57277

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-germn-sex-refugees-lured-back-again-with-palatial-home/28865199.html

The following links are to RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE sources, again many of them of questionable ethics

https://www.protestant.ru/news/world/outside/article/64131

http://genocid.net/%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%B8-%D0%B3%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BC%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B8-%D0%B2%D1%8B%D1%88%D0%BB%D0%B8-%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%B7%D0%B0%D1%89%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%83-%D0%B4%D0%B5%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%B9-%D0%BE%D1%82-%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%B2%D0%B5%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%BC/

http://xn—-8sbeybxdibygm.ru-an.info/%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8/%D0%B2-%D1%81%D0%B8%D0%B1%D0%B8%D1%80%D1%8C-%D0%B8%D0%B7-%D0%B3%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BC%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B8-%D0%B1%D0%B5%D0%B6%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B8-%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%B8-%D1%81-10-%D0%B4%D0%B5%D1%82%D1%8C%D0%BC%D0%B8-%D0%B8%D0%B7-%D0%B7%D0%B0-%D1%83%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2-%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D1%83%D0%B0%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%B2%D0%B5%D1%89%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F/

An adventure in four trains

Kaydan wrote on their Twitter that they take their train commute as an adventure. One train. Well, on Saturday April 14, I had a quadruple adventure by this standard. For Kaydan and any one else interested here are all the trains involved.

This was a journey in Ireland, from Limerick City to Dalkey, which is a suburb of Dublin. I had my children with me and we were headed to Dalkey for a fencing blitz in which they (not I) took part the next day.

We had a train ticket from Limerick to Dublin (Heuston Station). Boked online, then retrieved from a ticket machine by typing a code.

One ticket but two trains. First, we boarded this “railcar” (small DMU train – two carriages).

A better view of this same Diesel Multiple Unit can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/be216cd1/8258285853

Model: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IE_2800_Class

I could not get a photo of the inside without getting people’s faces in it. But I measured the speed – it was doing 80 kph to 100 kph.

This DMU took us non-stop to Limerick Junction, where we transferred to the Cork to Dublin train.

A bigger and stronger DMU. Model: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IE_22000_Class

This train was doing 150-160 kph. which is its design speed. When we arrived to Dublin, there was another 22000 class train at a platform we walked by, and it was empty, so I took a photo of the inside:

At Heuston Station we boarded the LUAS, which is the Dublin light rail/tram system. S the third train is actually a tram, but it’s still a train as it goes on rails and has multiple carriages 🙂

This is a Citadis 4000 class: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luas#Track_and_rolling_stock

After riding this tram we spent some time in central Dublin. walking. And then wanted to take the DART train to Dalkey, but the station was closed, which tok us by surprise. We had to get a bus to Grand Canal Dock station. And there we did board the DART:

Inside:

The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is the only electrified heavy railway in Ireland, and this train is an EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) made by Tokyu Corporation, making it a genuine Japanese- type train. (While the 2800 class DMUs above are also Tokyu, iconic modern Japanese trains are EMUs).

 

A response to Jane Clare Jones

Commented at her critique of Judith Butler https://janeclarejones.com/2019/01/24/judith-butler-how-to-disappear-patriarchy-in-three-easy-steps/comment-page-1/#comment-2604 ; posting here n case she does not publish.

The Second Wave was not a monolith, even its radical part. Shulamith Firestone in 1970 actually called for male and female to become socially irrelevant, pretty much the stuff you do not want.

However, something rather more important than un-retirement of an old academic has just happened. Those brave defenders of the right of women, Posie Parker and Venice Allan, were flown to the US and welcomed by the Heritage Foundation. Moreover, in a display of total dominance (whether or not Butler would find it “necessary”), Heritage distributed brochures at the event which listed being forced to “affirm same sex marriage” as one of the dangers of the sugested Equality Act. At an event where lesbians spoke. None of them rose to leave.

This is more than Stockholm Syndrome, this is a short leash. When after that the women went on to barge into HRC to harass people there, and actually posted a video of themselves doing that, this got more coverage, but I think the brochure moment was crusial in demonstrating total control by Heritage.

You wrote previously that trans activists somehow “invented” your ilk being in cahoots with the trad right. Right now, this is all out in the open. And Jean Hatchett, who protested against this act, was immediately and viciously attacked by her former (and your!) comrades. She was now driven off Twitter by them, despite being a known terminal cancer patient. By them, not by the trans and pro-trans crowd.

I understand you may have thought otherwise honestly. But the link to the far right of the trad variety – nay, the control by it – is now out in the open. It is your choice where to stand now.