Wednesday, July 31, 2019

On Robertson v McAlpine

I've just been catching up with the indirect war of words the other day between Fiona Robertson (the SNP's highly controversial Women's and Equalities Convener) and Joan McAlpine (SNP MSP for South of Scotland).  It was a reminder that, although I'm a lot closer to McAlpine's views on the self-ID issue than to Robertson's, this debate has essentially become a fight to the death between two different currents of radical identity politics that both I and the vast majority of the population aren't actually signed up to: radical feminism on one side, and radical trans activism on the other.  It's noticeable that almost everyone opposed to self-ID, even if they're the last person in the world you'd think of as a radical feminist, adopts the language of radical feminism when talking about the issue.  It's as if no-one is comfortable addressing the issue from any other angle whatsoever, and of course Fiona Robertson and her fellow travellers would probably tell you that's because many people are merely using feminism as a figleaf to cover up their "transphobia".  (Certainly not a view that I share.)

The dispute between Robertson and McAlpine was over the now-notorious case of Jessica Yaniv, a trans woman in Canada who demanded that women should perform an intimate waxing on her, even though she is anatomically male.  Although this episode is hugely problematic for Robertson, because it bears out many of the fears over self-ID that she has insisted are completely unfounded, she nevertheless offered a degree of support to Yaniv by suggesting it would still be wrong to "misgender her", and that Yaniv should be regarded as a "female predator" rather than a male predator.  To support this rather unconvincing view, she placed Yaniv's actions within the context of broader female predatory behaviour, which she claimed often involves women using their femininity to access victims.  That infuriated McAlpine, who as a radical feminist regards predatory sexual behaviour as something that men do to women.  The irony is that Robertson agrees with her on that point - as an all-round identity politics obsessive, nobody is more passionate than Robertson about preaching the gospel that one gender is still oppressed in a one-way direction by the other.  It just goes to demonstrate that the ideology of radical trans activists is so Orwellian that it leads its proponents inexorably into saying things that are the polar opposite of what they actually believe.  Because self-identifying trans women are women, that means Yaniv must be a woman, no ifs, no buts, and that she therefore must be a female predator, and that female predatory behaviour must therefore be a thing, even though Robertson's own radical feminist worldview would normally tell her that it can't possibly be.

McAlpine's brand of feminism is more impressive than Robertson's because it's logically consistent.  But I still winced when I saw some of the specific arguments that McAlpine deployed against Robertson: for example, the claim that 98% of sexual assaults are committed by men.  I would recommend that everyone reads this recent BBC article about male victims of serious and violent sexual assaults committed by women, and the reactions they received when they spoke out about their experiences.  One was told by a police officer that "you must have enjoyed it or you'd have reported it sooner".  It's very difficult, and arguably impossible, to compile accurate and meaningful statistics when male victims know they won't be believed if they come forward.  Exactly the same problem exists with domestic violence.  It almost certainly is the case that the majority of sexual assaults are committed by men against women, and that the problem can therefore be regarded as "gendered" (in exactly the same way that many disadvantages of being male, such as significantly lower life expectancy and a higher suicide risk, can be regarded as gendered).  But there's a very big difference between saying that men are mostly the cause of a problem, and saying that they are more or less exclusively the cause of a problem.  Facts matter and truth matters - and if we know there may be gaps in our knowledge of the facts, that matters as well.  I was also uncomfortable with McAlpine telling Robertson that she "sounded like a men's rights activist".  That's exactly what was once said to me by a certain actor (when he took a rare break from bragging about his desire to thump his political opponents).  I regarded it as a lazy cop-out then and I regard it as a lazy cop-out now.  An argument stands or falls on its own merits, not on whether it "sounds like something X or Y would say".

But, at the end of the day, you don't need to agree with every aspect of McAlpine's reasoning to accept that she's reached the correct basic conclusion.  You don't need to believe that the ideology of trans activists is some sort of  'conspiracy of the patriarchy' (a somewhat paranoid view if ever there was one) to agree that there are safety issues in allowing anyone to access female-only spaces at will, or that women's sport will be devalued by the participation of biological males, or that statistics on crime will become even less meaningful if they are unable to distinguish accurately between male and female perpetrators.  These points are really just plain common sense, which is why they are the centre of gravity in wider public opinion, and not just in radical feminist circles.


  1. Wow James, how to get yourself in the weeds.

    (As I understand) There are 2 core issues in the debate:
    1 - Can you change your SEX (I am not referring to gender here)?
    2 - Were protections for females because of gender or sex?

    Point 1 has a follow on
    - Is your sex determined by your gender?

    As I understood the historical logical sequence
    Sex determined gender M=Man F=Woman

    Next evolution
    Sex = genetic (some see binary - some see as gradient)
    Gender = social construct (a gradient)
    Gender is decoupled from sex - hence transgender (note the term is trans"gender")

    Currently, we have now reached a point were some are arguing that:
    Gender determines Sex (they want to re-couple sex and gender but where gender is primary) Hence. in this argument all rights/protections that were previously determined by Sex should now be by Gender - where a person gets the right to Self ID their gender - and gaining protections that were previously granted to a sex.

    That is the argument (again, as I see it being debated)...its not about radical feminists vs trans activists. Society may have been caught out by not updating its language once we decoupled sex and gender. Official bodies never went back and determined which rights were sex determined and which were gender specific....often because we saw the genre words as more friendly (less threatening) and polite.

    1. "its not about radical feminists vs trans activists."

      Has anyone told them that?

    2. I can see the foundations of a useful discussion here. But we need a lot more clarity about the difference(s) between sex and gender. And this leads into a maze of philosophical questions about nature versus nurture, free will versus determinism, the limits of volition, false consciousness, etc. I’m not even sure that it helps to talk about biology. I’m no expert but I believe some scientists now conceive of human nature as an unending series of feedback loops between genetic and environmental factors.

    3. Here's the discussion:
      Penis = male;
      Vagina = female.

      That's it, really. Really it is.

    4. Gertie,

      Denying the existence of trans people is bigotry. It really is. It is the thin edge of an argument that will deny the existence of lesbians because vagina = so cannot marry a woman. Penis = so cannot marry a man. Don't think we longstanding LGBT activists don't know the basis of this and where it is going.

    5. I'm cisGinger planning to become transBlonde. Next week I might become transBrunette. I'm just that whimsical kind of gal.
      Don't deny I exist because that would be antiGertie bigotry. And that's not ridiculous.

    6. People have to agree with me or they are phobic bigots or bigoted phobes. Meanwhile I am morally superior. To everyone.

    7. JR Tomlin is an American crank who gets off on abusing people for knowing that 2+2=4.

      Trans humans don't exist. They never have, can or will exist.

      A gang of perverts has managed to take over half the government and we are supposed to just go along with them. Fk them and fk you!

      Please to be explaining how men can turn into women. I know american schools exist to avoid teaching facts but this is Scotland and we actually educate children here.

  2. Illy: Feel free to repost your deleted comment without the swearing, although you might want to clarify your question while you're at it.

    1. Seriously?

      Here's a basic primer on the biology:

      That will start to remove the lies-to-children that let you think "biologically male" means what you think it means.

      As for my question: What marker did you mean when you said "biologically male"? Chromosomes? Brain structure? External appearance of genitalia? Be specific, because there are a lot of different ways to measure someone's sex, and they don't always match.

    2. Sorry if I've not properly understood your point illy...

      Male and female sexes are defined by a combination of a number of biological markers, as discussed in the article you linked to. It would not be possible to use a single marker; it would be too error prone ('if it has wings it's a bird').

      Almost all humans clearly fall into the male or female definition based on a combination of established biological markers, including DSD people, and of course trans. Transwomen are biological males and transmen biological females by definition.

      The brain pattern research is adding an interesting new bio marker. It can't, as you note, be used to define male or female alone as no single marker can do this. However it can help aid definition and is insightful. Such patterns would help a lot in explaining why some people have sex dysphoria (identify as a different biological sex to their birth sex).

      Unfortunately, such insights won't solve the basic problem in hand re single sex spaces etc as sex remains very well defined.

    3. "It would not be possible to use a single marker; it would be too error prone ('if it has wings it's a bird')."

      "sex remains very well defined."

      That's some major internal inconsistencies you have there.

      Here's an "am I being a bigot" test for you: Replace "trans" with "birth defect" and see if the position still seems reasonable to you.

      I also note that you didn't actually answer the question of which marker you are using to make those statements, so I'll repeat the question: Which marker are you using as your authoritative "biological sex" marker?

    4. You may not be able to understand what 'biologically male' means, but the vast majority of the world does. Your ridiculous 'markers' question shows that you are being deliberately obtuse, and trying to muddy the waters.

      Is a cod a fish? If so, which markers did you use?

    5. "The vast majority of the world" once thought that the sun orbited the earth.

    6. The vast majority of the world also once thought that there is an observable difference between summer and winter.

      They still do.

      They might even be right.

    7. Still doesn't make an appeal to popularism any use in a rational debate.

      That is what you want to have, right?

      Care to actually answer the question I asked?

    8. Scottish Skier has already answered it very comprehensively.

    9. You mean where he said two totally contradictory things and hoped no-one would notice?

    10. Honestly, we get the message: you have a problem with anyone disagreeing with you.

    11. I am morally superior to anyone who disagrees with me. (And everyone else, actually.)

    12. Fellow of the Institute of Biology here. The best way to determine the sex of a human being, or indeed any mammal, is to observe which pathway it followed during foetal development - male or female. This sometimes goes a bit wrong, hence DSD conditions ("intersex", of which there are about 40 distinct recognised conditions), but these individuals are still male or female, just with anomalies of the reproductive tract.

      Which pathway the foetus takes is determined by the genes it got at conception, and most specifically by the presence or absence of an SRY gene. The SRY gene is nearly always on the Y chromosome, so it is nearly always correct to say that having a Y chromosome makes the individual male. However, occasionally the SRY gene is absent from the Y chromosome, or inactive, and in such cases an XY individual will develop as a female. Conversely, on occasion an SRY gene will translocate to another chromosome, usually an X, and in these cases an XX individual will develop as male.

      The only other exception is in cases of complete androgen insensitivity. Bioavailable androgens are necessary for the SRY gene to do its work and if functional androgen receptors are not present again an XY individual (SRY-positive) will develop down the female pathway. (I appreciate that by some very strict criteria these individuals might be considered male, as they have vestigial testes and not ovaries, but nobody seriously suggests that XY CAIS women are not women.)

      And that's basically it. Your sex, male or female, is determined by your genes, which determine which developmental pathway you followed in utero. It can't be changed.

      What can be changed is that a male can be given the superficial appearance of a female by artificial hormones and cosmetic surgery, and (less convincingly) a female can be given the superficial appearance of a male. This does not change the actual sex of the body however.

      Now if some people want to change the dictionary definitions of man (adult human male) and woman (adult human female), which are pretty damn unambiguous and have served us well for probably millennia in whatever language we were speaking at the time, to something relating to clothes or mannerisms or an inner essence, to something which can be chosen and can vary at will, I think we as a society need a much longer and better-informed discussion before that is implemented.

  3. Although I'm nervous about expressing any opinion at all (I'm a heterosexual man) I agree with James. The need to protect women-only spaces for the overwhelming majority of people who identify as women, that is, people born as women, trumps the need for a small number of transgender people to have all the privileges of women. Sadly many men to do predate on women and women need the protection.

    1. What markers are you using to define "born as women"?

      Because as I linked earlier, there are a lot.

    2. Yes, there are multiple markers which define males vs females.

      The same markers are used to define all people, including trans and DSD. Without such markers/definition, there would only be a single sex.

      That would certainly be simpler re the trans debate, albeit plainly ridiculous.

      Even if sex was a unimodal 'spectrum' rather than bimodal (actual case), we'd still have a mid point with multiple markers to define which side people were on; m or f.

    3. If someone has 50%+ male markers, then they are male etc.

      Male markers include chromosomes, hormones, physical expressions of these such as genitalia. We might also include brain activity patterns as a marker which would shift a bit things as appropriate. If these are physically detectable, then they are a biological marker.

    4. Sorry, 'general sex markers include...'

    5. Some problems with your view jump instantly to mind:

      * Intersex people exist.

      * Brain topology is a primary factor in how someone acts. What they have between their legs isn't. Trans people's brains generally match their identified gender.

      * So if I start listing out all the markers in my brain that mark me as female, and add them to the list of "chromosomes and external appearance of genitalia" then you'll accept that I'm female? How much do I need to subdivide brain markers before the flaw in this method is obvious?

    6. Intersex people fall on either side of the divide. They must or we can only have one sex (or three sexes). It's possible to be very close to the divide, but at a given moment, you will always be on one side of it. Ask a water molecule at 0 C. This is the point of binary definitions.

      What you suggest is redefining biological sex. That's possible, but the basic concept is centred on evolutionary reproduction. If we refine it for societal purposes, scientists will continue to use the old, relevant definitions for them. How could they not if studying species populations, fruit flies etc?

      The public will struggle to accept such changes too. Better to separate sex and gender? The latter is really up to us. The former very pre-defined by nature. Conflation of the two must not happen if we do this. It's part of the problem.

      We are the masters of our own gender identitues, but not our sex. While changing the latter might seem desirable, it comes with problems.

      If I understand it, you are a trans woman... To redefine sex as you suggest would take away the trans and you'd be just an actual female. That would of course remove any rights you gain from trans status. For example, no NHS treatment for transitioning (you are already female so any treatment is just cosmetic so private), no trans specific rights protections. No more cash for trans support charities etc. Transgender would vanish as a definition as so with it transgender people, including any trans identity you personally have. Is that this all wise? You'd still be the same person in the same body facing the same world, but 'on your own' .

      I think its better to keep the current sex m/f/trans definitions. Gender we can introduce as a separate definition in society (and documentation) going forwards.

    7. In the simplest terms, if e.g. transwomen stop being trans and are redefined just as women like any other (and vice versa), formerly make bodies and all, then trans is no more. It's not possible to be both.

      That may have some positives, but there are negatives such as listed. No more treatment for gender dysphoria is a very obvious one; the condition no longer exists. If a female can have a penis, a man can have babies etc, they can't be 'in the wrong body'.

    8. So your whole argument hinges on conflating being trans with having gender dysphoria?

      Gender dysphoria is a treatable condition. Being trans is not.

      I'd love it if being trans had no relevance. I could just get my dysphoria treated and not worry about facing discrimination and violence my whole life.

      "Intersex people fall on either side of the divide. They must or we can only have one sex (or three sexes)"

      And here you're just medically wrong, btw. Human hermaphrodites do actually exist, and there are a wide variety of animals who naturally change gender during their lives. (Remember how this was a major plot point in Jurassic Park?)

    9. Other species have no relevance to the issue; only humans.

      Most intersex people (DSD) are very much one side or the other from markers (you'd think they were one or the other on general examination) with only a few which are difficult to clearly place. If we argue they are not m/f they must be a third sex (e. g. intersex) .

      Transgender are not the same as intersex (not by current definitions). If transgender were intersex, they would still be biologically male or female; that or a third sex.

      Also, minor exceptions to definitions do not invalidate definitions. If intersex are a third sex, standard male and female definitions still hold. We just have a third type.

      People with gender dysphoria face the same problem as transgender (definitions are almost identical for these two) if they try to transition. Bullying and discrimination apply to both. They also face potentially great distress due to the dysphoria.

      The only way this can be stopped is having people accept trans as they are; trans. Decoupling the T from LGB and stonewall etc would be the first step as this association suggests trans is primarily a sexual interest / orientation like gay, lesbian, bi. This is not true and the association is damaging, particularly when it comes to the single sex space etc issue.

      I also think eliminating trans people by redefining sex to remove current standard definitions would not be helpful for the reasons specified earlier. If we all agree that a female can have a penis, balls and a beard, then there is no such thing as trans. Such a person is a 'female mind in a female body with a female penis'. So bang goes trans as a minority group that needs rights protection etc.

      As for single sex spaces... This is a difficult issue unless someone medically changes ( genitals etc). One thing is for certain though, males (like me) should not be deciding who gets to go into female only spaces. That's for females to decide. What's the point of female (body) only spaces otherwise.

      If we allow different sexed bodies into same sex spaces, then we defeat their entire purpose.

      If e.g. trans women want to keep their male sexed body as is, then using the male body or sex neutral facilities seems the only fair option. In Thailand, where 'ladyboys' are a part of life, they use the male sex facilities if they keep their male genitalia.

      It's that, or we redefine sex so it's no longer binary, so eliminating m/f/trans people as earlier discussed.

      I'm Mr Liberal and this issue has made me have to think and read a lot. As a scientist, I am doing my best to stick to cold logic. Not easy with emotive issues.

    10. The problem with not allowing non-ops and pre-ops into women's spaces are many.

      The biggest one is that it creates a catch-22 situation: No doctor will perform SRS unless the patient has lived as their identified gender for several years. You try living as one gender and using the facilities of the other.

      Which leads nicely to the second point: It exposes trans people to even more harassment and threatening situations than currently. Do you remember the gay bashings? Trans people have it worse than they ever did.

      "Also, minor exceptions to definitions do not invalidate definitions."

      Umm, exceptions prove that a rule is not accurate. The orbit of mercury proves that Newton's laws of motion are wrong.

      1.7% of people in the USA and Europe are born with indistinct genitalia. I assume you would class these people as some third gender? 0.3% of the same population are trans. Most trans people have brains that are strongly marked as the opposite sex to their external genitalia.

      There is a long, long history of trying to change the brain's sex. None of it worked. Most of those methods are considered torture today.

      Hormone replacement and a little bit of surgery have been shown to get you 90% of the way there.

      What do you consider more important: A person's brain/mind/personality, or their body?

    11. What exactly are you arguing, that male and female don't exist? That my wife and I are the same sex?

      That intersex people don't exist because there are no male and females for intersex to share some characteristics of?

      Are you saying that trans people should be considered as biologically their identified sex, body and all, so wiping trans from existence?

      Or maybe you are saying trans are fully intersex, being neither male nor female biologically, meaning eg transwomen are not women?

      I thought trans people had a sex identity different to that of their biological sex. So a transwoman had a male body but a female identity? Is this not a definition you accept? If not, then what is trans?

      Should trans men use the gents? What about gay men; should they get to use the ladies to avoid gay bashing? What about more 'weedy' men? Why can't these join other male bodies in the ladies to escape bullying from men? Or is a female brain the entry ticket?

      If so, what are trans men doing in the ladies? Should they not be sent to the gents? If we are defining based on brains/thoughts, then trans women would be male pervs in the ladies changing room!

      Should we not all be tested? I'm quite a feminist. Maybe I have a female brain? Something to be tested at birth maybe?

      This is a big can of worms (male and female worms).

      In terms of what is most important in biological definition, well that would be biological IMO. The main reason for M/F is reproduction / evolution by natural selection. Females (bodies) have the eggs and get pregnant. Males provide the sperm. If you want to do reproductive studies, then 50 males and their 50 transwomen partners will not get you far.

      As for sex/gender dysphoria, it's unfortunate if people don't like the body they have. There are very few people they do like their bodies. Some want to be thinner, some want to be taller, smaller, younger, have a bigger penis, have larger breasts, a different colour of hair...a body not predisposed to a type of inherited cancer. I have a family member who starved themselves to try and get a thinner body, in part because she was bullied, by females. We should encourage people to love their bodies, and discourage them from believing they are 'in the wrong one'. This is how I was brought up.

      There is no such thing as being in the wrong body. While we might like a different one, our bodies are our bodies; the right ones, be they male, female or a bit more in between. Our identities are an infinitely rich mix too.

      Only teaching people that sort of attitude will help stop bullying and discrimination.

    12. Whatever, I'm done arguing with you, I'm never going to convince you, and I'm getting too many posts deleted for tone policing to even be able to think about keeping my temper in check.

      Enjoy attacking a 0.3% minority. Goodbye.

    13. I'm sorry you feel that way and thank you for taking the time to respond to my posts.

      I am honestly unsure of what it is exactly that you want to convince me of though.

    14. Contracepta Rees MoggAugust 1, 2019 at 9:00 PM

      Illy: are you a brand of coffee?

  4. Miss Arthur GruntJuly 31, 2019 at 9:10 AM

    Wish these fannies would stop dicking around.

    1. Sir Lydia CrackpotJuly 31, 2019 at 3:54 PM

      I wish all those dicks would stop fanning around, actually. And I don't care who knows it.

  5. Another Yougov sub-sample

    SNP 42
    Con 18
    LD 15
    BXT 12
    Lab 11
    Grn 1

    Sampling variation. Lets us see the trend over the next few Yougov polls.

  6. Boabie = Man. Lon Charney = Woman. Any psychological problem can be resolved by micro surgery in the brain, solder and flux.

    1. GWC = Guy in Wonderwoman Costume
      Cordelia = Lady

  7. Kitty "Jumblepot" SquelchJuly 31, 2019 at 11:48 AM

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than any doubt in my kettle.

  8. US making its position clear again.

    The 'Murphy' lobby is powerful in the states.

    'We’ll block trade deal if Brexit imperils open Irish border, say US politicians'

    Johnson-Trump plan could fall foul of Congress if Good Friday agreement is threatened

    1. So Skier believes in USA INTERVENTION. I suppose you could justify USA intervention in the Middle East and South America. It will be the EU that puts up a border.

    2. "I love a bit of heavy intervention," announced troubled MP Ross Thomson.

    3. The EU cannot put up a border / introduce customs checks in N. Ireland. Only the UK could do that.

    4. And if they don't put up a border, they are obliged by WTO rules not to put up any other borders anywhere else. It's like Catch 22.

    5. USA intervention is here with New York born Boris as PM of England.

  9. What has this got to do with independence and why does it appear to be primarily an SNP obsession?? Maybe it's just because I folow mostly indy folk on twitter that it seems that way to me....

    Seems to be an ubwelcomw distraction at a time when we need to pull together...

    1. Good question.
      But divide and rule is usually a winning tactic.
      Unionists want to win.

    2. SNP: Lets make life easier for 0.3% of the population that America is targeting - show Scotland is a better place. It's not a big deal, and it will cut down on bureaucratic expenditure.

      Everyone else: WAAAAAAHH!!! My primary school biology knowledge is being show to be overly simplified to the point of being wrong! I don't like learning things when they impact my prejudices!

      Yeah, its a dumb argument, and its mostly imported from the states.

    3. Good grief. If you're trying to portray this as a disagreement between a united SNP and everyone else, all I can do is wish you luck, because it's not an accurate representation of reality. As, of course, you know.

    4. Och it's fine to have such debates on here. It's naff all to do with indy or polls but a break from GWC and I trading barbs is welcome once in a while.

      As for the government, they do need to take a pause and get this right. Many a fuck up has been made with the best of intentions.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. While I can see merit on both sides of the debate, I find myself less sympathetic to the radfem side because they generally fail to seriously engage with the existence of gender dysphoria as a reason for the desire to 'transition' and haven't put much creative thinking into coming up with alternative solutions to the problem of gender dysphoria. Once gender dysphoria is sidelined, their answers to the simple question 'why are people trans' have to revolve around paranoid conspiracy theories : 'they want to destroy the womens' movement', sex-negative dismissive shaming: 'it's primarily a sexual fetish', or plain demonisation 'they want to pass themselves off as women so they can rape/assault women'. Transmen don't really feature in their discourses at all, beyond being deluded victims of societal gender expectations.

    I find this at best, an unsatisfactory presentation of the problem, and at worst, an argument in bad faith. Cases of biological males/transwomen attacking cisgender women to exist, but are comparatively rare, and so to make their argument work radfems have to pathologise/demonise transwomen as a whole.

    1. Fascinating. What other ways do you have of sending people to sleep? Mogadon?

  11. Hello Illy - this was an interesting article so thanks for the link. Although informative it cannot be said to without bias - and to be fair to the author it was written in response to the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. If you follow the links to the research document you are taken to the University of Hawai's Pacific Center for Sex and Society - it would be relatively impossible for such a department to be completely unbiased even though based as part of the Medical School. The methodology of the main part of the study seems pretty flawed as amongst other things "An extensive library search yielded reports of 27 male and 16 female sets concordant or discordant for transsexuality. An Internet bulletin board search and clinical contact requests for participants in a survey of twins in which one or both transitioned located 69 new twin pairs." That's pretty much the study group along with this part of the methodology "The survey, with a stamped and addressed return envelope, was mailed to each potential subject pair. The survey consisted of both open- and closed-ended questions with sufficient allowance for additional comments. Responses were not always forthcoming from both members of the twin pair. Most often it was the twin that had transitioned that responded for both."

    The problem is that sex and gender are terms that come from different disciplines - when I was studying biology at University there was no problem in assigning or identifying sex in plants and animals and I do not think that has changed.

    Yes people have problems with their identity but, I think the concentration on this discussion in mainstream media and politics is out of proportion. The 0.3% of the population of the USA the author writes about is very small compared to the near 20% of Americans reported to have one or more diagnosed psychological or physical disability (with half of those having a severe disability).

    In the UK 8% of children are disabled, 19% of working age adults are disabled and 45% of pension age adults are disabled - we don't spend half the time talking about them as we do about transgender people and transgender rights.

    In England 8% of pupils with SEN attend special schools, in Northern Ireland  7.2%, Wales 4% and here in Scotland its 4.5% of pupils. These are the things we should be discussing and spending on. Transgender issues composing such a small portion of the population should really take their place near the back of an all too long queue of the disadvantaged in society. We really have to get our priorities right.

    ALL suicides are terrible things but with over 15% of women and 8% of males with learning disabilities attempting suicide perhaps targeting these often forgotten groups would be better. They have waited long enough to reduce stigma but still they seem to have little spent on them and little public discussion over their issues.

    1. Oh I absolutely agree that people opposed to LGBT rights are blowing the whole thing out of all proportion. But that's probably because they can't beat up gay people with impunity anymore, so they're picking on the next-best group.

      Take the recent situation with the GRA: A proposed reduction in bureaucratic paperwork was overturned because the lobbies didn't understand what the situation already was.

    2. To be honest, I've seen some very homophobic comments from trans people.

      LBGT people are as capable of bigotry and racism as anyone else.

      Plenty of brutal genocidal dictators in history were lgbt.

    3. And I've heard lots of anti-English racism from Scots.

    4. Of course. There are racist Scots as there are racist English people. Although weirdly, the most anti-english comments I've heard are from unionists.

    5. Hello again Illy (I am anon) that is not a fair comment when you say "people opposed to LGBT rights are blowing the whole thing out of all proportion" - I am not opposed to LGBT rights and your comment is unfair to the issue I raise over disabled people. At least give some thought to other people's issues if you are going to go head on about one that concerns you. Assumptions. That is a word you should think about. You have made assumptions throughout all of this discourse. You have made assumptions about all of the contributors here - you have no idea whether I am trans or not - but you assume I am not. You couldn't give a toss if I am disabled as your response to my input shows - disabled rights mean zilch to you. BUT it doesn't have to be like this, with kindness and a will to make everyone's life experience better we can all help each other. If you are a trans gender person then I appreciate the difficulties you have to face in life - it is not easy. There are people out there who are horrible (for want of a better word) but we all face them with our own problems, issues or disabilities or any other reason we are 'outside' but, we have to try to be supportive to each other emotively and create a better society that we can all be part of. 'ALL' being the key word. Imposing laws is not the route, creating a better world foe ALL is where we need to aim. I appreciate that you are having a rough time but try once again to think of those with bigger problems (and I do mean bigger problems) such as severe cerebral palsy, quadriplegia etc., where is your compassion for them? It didn't fit with your response to my post. Lets all get together and create a better environment for all, inclusive of all. the debate over trans rights has to be kept in proportion to all of society and on the big scale the proportion of trans is very small compared to the proportion of public/political debate. Disabled rights is a much more pressing issue that urgently needs attention. Unfortunately, it is unfashionable.

  12. Maybe, because I am a 70-something Baby Boomer, I am having difficulty seeing what all the fuss is about.

    If the person has "meat and two veg", regardless of how they wish to identify themselves, they are male. If they want to be female -have the operation, and if that means a lot of hard lobbying for the op to be more-readily available on the NHS, get lobbying.

    Basically, if one "trans-predator" rapes one female, using "her" penis, it is one too-many; and we must continue to have safe, all-female spaces to prevent this.

    If you are carting "Wullie," "Boaby" or "Dick" around with you - use the little boys room. Once you've got rid of your unwanted pals, you can use the little girls' room.

    1. The simple problem with that argument is that its a catch-22. In order to have any doctor be willing to give you the surgery you're requiring, you have to have lived as a woman for the last few years.

      That includes using the right toilet.

      There are other problems with it, but I don't think I really need to go into them given the first one.

    2. Hear, hear, Socrates. That about sums it up. And very clearly too.

    3. If you are carting "Wullie," "Boaby" or "Dick" around with you - use the little boys room. Once you've got rid of your unwanted pals, you can use the little girls' room.

      Should people be checked for these unwanted pals at the entrance to the toilet? Sounds like a lot of overhead

  13. You say that men don't feel able to report instances of sexual or domestic violence against them because they may not be believed, the subtext being that women are always able to report and be believed. That is anything but the case. The facts are the facts: the perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence are, on the whole, men. Nobody is saying women don't do these things, so please don't pretend otherwise. It devalues your case.

    1. Where that comment went wrong was the unjustified jump in the middle between "that is anything but the case" and "the facts are the facts". I was waiting for you to offer something in support of that sweeping assertion, but oddly you didn't. How mysterious. And how ironic that you finished with the words "it devalues your case".

  14. Men are the main victims of male perpetrated bullying and violence. Lots of men would wish to have a different toilet they could hide in, safe from the bullies.

  15. Since the public lavvies in St Vincent Place closed I have no where tae willy watch. CAN ANYONE HELP?

    1. Try looking at yir own - if yi can find it.

    2. Just go to one of your other old favourite haunts. You're well known in them all. Cordelia dressed as a man. It's like the opposite of Mrs Brown's Boys.

  16. Growing up your local leisure centre/ swimming pool would have separate male and female changing rooms, if you had suggested back then the idea of communial changing rooms and there would be outrage.

    No of course communial changing rooms are the norm. Now I am sure that, unfortunatly, some women have been sexually assulted, had men expose themselves to them etc. But the majority of women would not of experienced this and the majority of men would not think of doing anything.

    So yes, there will be a minority of trans men who abuse etc a minority of women, but as with communal changing facilities the majority will suffer no ill effects.

    No of course one sexual assault is one assault too many, but should we be against something just because of the risk posed by the overwelming minority?

  17. Thanks James for having the courage to post on this topic.

    I’m a doctor and I have cared for several Transgender patients during my career.

    Those I have met have approached things with a very different tone to some of the very strident Transactivist voices (I use this term because not all Trans are Transactivists, and not all Transactivists are Trans). They have been keen to get on with their lives, mindful of the rights of others and certainly not a threat to others. They have found their choices difficult and some have made irreversible decisions that they have later regretted. Some, however, have had a marked improvement in quality of life after transitioning.

    I think their more balanced voices are missing from this debate.

    Many Transactivists deliberately conflate Sex and Gender (this tactic is posted on many of their websites as a key tactic tip). The wider public are often complicit with this because of cultural squeamishness about using the word Sex ... and so we use Gender as if it were merely a more polite synonym for Sex -it is not.

    Sex is an empirical scientific finding.
    Intersex is used by some Transactivists as a canard. There are a minority of people who have difficult to determine sex or are assessed as intersex; possibly as many as 1 in 2000 births (some Transactivists make much higher claims but there is no evidence for this). Intersex does not negate the underlying science. Science does not support a notion of ‘sex as a spectrum’. At most, sex is overwhelmingly bimodal to the point of being indistinguishable from binary in everyday life.

    Gender is a very different thing and has a myriad different definitions and belief systems depending on who is appropriating the term. Some Transactivists actually take an (ironically) very old fashioned view of preference for ‘boys toys vs girls toys’ or ‘masculine traits’ and ‘feminine traits’. This is on view in the material produced by the influential lobby group Mermaids who work to change the way that gender confused children are helped.

    1. The pink for girls, blue for boys trans flag and 'Barbie-GI Joe' mermaids scales sets us back decades.

      I winced the first time I saw these. Can only have been a sexist man that came up with these.

      I can see why feminists (wait, that's me) can't believe what they are witnessing.

  18. Con/d:

    Gender has, unfortunately, been drawn into a Lewis Carroll world:
    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less."

    We must absolutely resist the same thing happening to Sex.

    So, where does this leave us? In a bit of a mess I’m afraid.

    I don’t think that the Trans people that I have met would be very comfortable with changes that Trivialise their journey and make them vulnerable to a backlash. If I want to claim sick pay for more than a week, I need a doctor to confirm this. Surely Transition is at least as significant? I think their voices need to be heard but I will not presume to say more on their behalf.

    Laws and protection must to be based on facts. That is why self identification is dangerous and vulnerable to misuse. Sex is a protected characteristic; there is good reason for single sex spaces and institutions to be protected.

    The other issue that concerns me greatly is how gender confused children are ‘helped’ and the influence of ‘Mermaids’. This charity receives significant public funding and engages in ‘education’ work with schools, police, health services and local authorities. They are a pressure group with a particular agenda. They support a policy of affirmation without assessment. Even using Mermaids own figures, 80% of children with confusion about their gender identity eventually decide that there is not a mismatch between their Gender and physical Sex. Mermaids support ‘Puberty blocker’ drugs to prevent puberty. The Tavistock clinic in London is conducting experimental trials of these drugs in children. The results have not been forthcoming and only selected bits have been released (in misleading form).The Tavistock is caught in the middle of this huge controversy and are internally divided with many fearful of speaking out.

    Simply affirming without question a child’s view that they might belong to a different gender when they are at a particularly confused life stage (puberty approaching) seems hazardous. Promoting drugs that interfere with puberty worries me and giving big doses of hormones to produce different sexual characteristics must be dangerous (for context these doses are many times the dose that we as doctors fret about the risks for contraception and HRT).

    This is a scandal slowly breaking.

    The Scottish Government needs to tread very carefully.

    1. Doc, thanks for this balanced comment. I agree that the views of people like your patients need to be heard. Your argument against self-ID and in favour of medical certification does have something to commend it: but this does not solve the problem at the heart of the McAlpine/Robertson dispute. 2nd wave trans-exclusionary feminists are not merely against self-ID, they are against the concept that one can be 'trans' and the practice of medical transitioning altogether.

  19. Lily quotes a false figure of 1.7% but before we get to that let me state that all people, no matter what race, creed, sex, sexual orientation or expressed gender should be respected.

    Human sex, however, is an essentially binary scientific matter that is defined at birth (with very , very few exceptions as discussed below)

    There are various sub-scientific commentaries on the matter and more than a few non-scientific comments, but none are rationally consistent and the binary or, if preferred, bimodal nature of sex remains.

    The term ‘intersex’ which is often loosely used, should be applied strictly to those conditions in which chromosomal sex is inconsistent with phenotypic sex, or in which the phenotype is not classifiable as either male or female. Applying this definition, the frequency of individuals who fall across the sex divide in the general population is about 0.00018 (0.018%)

    Applying a much broader definition that includes all disorders of sexual development at any time in life brings us closer to a frequency of 0.01 (1%).

    These proportion of humans not being strictly male or female does not make sex any less binary.

    Figures close to 0.02 (2%) are completely wrong or are based on false classification with no scientific basis. This applies to Lily's figure and the paper on which the figure she quotes is based does not state what she states.

    Gender may be a social construct or an internalised expression of self and the term “transgender” means that a person identifies more as the opposite sex than their birth sex—within a framework of sex being binary.

    In fact, some transgender expression may have a biological basis in that there is a neurological or physiological situation that makes you feel that you “don’t belong to your“ assigned sex and people who identify in this way should be respected and should not be discriminated against.

    They cannot, however,
    1) demand more rights than any other group
    2) take rights away from another group in society (females)
    3) apply/abuse their different physiology to support their case
    4) be allowed to use false evidence to make their points.

    1. Norma Two Scoops MorrisonAugust 3, 2019 at 7:26 AM

      In my day a trannie was a small radio. We used to call these weirdies Jessies or Pansy Anns and everybody seemed happy with that. Now they're all running around like Danny La Rue trying to get into women's prisons and refugee camps. They should stick to doing drag shows for the army

  20. Meanwhile. I see RD (former saviour of the precious Yoonion) is ranting about the evil SNP keeping Scotland in the hated CFP.

    She actively campaigned for remain which would have kept the YK in the hated CFP.

    She's a shameless liar. And still being protected by the shill, quisling SMSM propaganda factory.

    1. Do you mean Rolypoly Dumpling? I do.

  21. Some really informative comments on here,and well done James for writing about this issue.
    FWIW... Most Women I talk to are really concerned about this self ID stuff and at the bottom of the list is toilets.
    They are more concerned about things that can't be avoided like who gets to share a hospital room and intimate procedures.
    The main bug bear is this "Transwomen are Woman" nonsense...
    They're not they are Transwoman and since we can all usually tell,it's an insult to our intelligence to say such a thing!
    Scottish society has just about got the religion's stopped trying to make people believe things that demonstrably aren't true and along come this lot!
    If they have issues and need a change in the Law then fine,but the case is theirs to make and so far they are no very convincing.
    All I've seen is that Women must move over but why they must isn't clear.Even less clear is what is proposed to mitigate our loss of right's and protections.
    Once the Trans lobby groups wake up and realise that no amount of legislation or repeating the mantra can make a person see a Woman when they don't... And that Woman aren't willing to become a subset of their own sex ... then we might get somewhere....

  22. I think we all know who the 'subsidy junkies living off the back of scots taxpayers' are.

    Brexiters help themselves to another £2.1b of peoples hard earned cash.

    Britain to spend an extra £2.1 billion on no-deal Brexit planning

    1. That is a positive good spend. The EU are not interested in employing common sense and accepting our referendum result. They are more interested in their grip on political power than businesses and working people. I want a retrospective tax refund from the EU pariahs.

    2. Subsidy junkie. Pay for it yourself.

    3. Have to laugh at you Skier. You are happy to pay for 729 useless Meps whilst the poor que in Paris in droves

    4. Scots only pay for 6 you dumb ass.

  23. I have a male body, but how do I know my 'brain is male'?

    Putting aside actual physiological specific feelings / thoughts associated with our male or female bodies (getting hit in the baws, peeing with a willy, giving birth, breastfeeding etc... ), what other more metaphysical feeling / thought markers define male or female?

    I imagine nobody can name a single one that alone defines a male or female thought pattern, but a few together would be fine. You know, just like we use to define m/f biological sex.

    I am genuinely stumped on this one. I can't come up with a single thing (not unless I want to sound ridiculously sexist and very wrong at the same time). Do, I'm very keen to hear any suggestions.

    If we can't find an answer, we must return to physiology / biology to define sex.

    It's very important obviously as it's the basis of self identification, which is the main controversy.

    1. I'm not sure 'I have a male brain' is the right way to approach the subject. There have been differences noted between 'trans' and 'cis' brains but as far as I can see this research is at a very early stage and it would be unwise to try and speculate too much on or interpret these results.

      What we do know is that many trans people have often very intense experiences of gender dysphoria (particularly relating to the genitalia, or to secondary sex characteristics like facial hair for those born male). That indicates a certain mismatch or at least conflict between the brain/consciousness or the body. Whether medical transition is the best way to remedy this conflict or whether, as some argue, this conflict has its roots in societal conceptions of gender is one of the questions which needs to be resolved.

    2. I agree that there must be some sort of physiological explanation for transexual body dysphoria, as evidenced by the brain activity studies.

      It's why we must define sex by biology rather than metaphysics.

      An e.g. transwomans brain is of course a male brain as it is part of a male body. However it's perfectly logical that something different is happening physiologically in terms of body-brain electro/chemical signaling, leading to observed sex dysphoria.

  24. Latest on the 'dawn of the new golden age'.

    'Suffocating' UK factories report biggest fall in output in seven years - PMI

  25. I still regard most of these "issues" as distractions. They only affect extremely small numbers of people. Less than 1% or less than 0.01%. An attempt by people trying to manipulate the public to ignore all the economic and social problems that affect the vast majority and only focus on things that are ikky. Ignore starving and malnourished people and the decision that caused their condition. Focus on a guy trying force an immigrant woman to give him a free fondle or pay him to leave them alone.
    I will ignore all of this from now on and crucify the guilty later.

    1. Actually, full self-id applies to everyone (clue is in the name). Anyone can declare they are the opposite sex without any diagnosis / supporting evidence.

      If the issue only concerned people who had been medically diagnosed as transexual, there'd not be much if any concern. It would only affect a tiny minority.

      Stonewall is lobbying full open self id.

  26. Mori UK scots sample:

    45% SNP
    18% Lab
    17% Lib
    15% Con
    4% Bre

    1. That's our super serial success story Rolypoly Dumpling's party soaring to 15%. Winner.

  27. Looks like we are leaving the EU Skier. Arlene Foster calling the EU and Ireland collaborators to split the UK Union. £300 million for 4yrs of medical supplies. I am sure Cheltenham has tapped in on the Jock Paddy EU Quisling Communications. I look forward to seeing the ROI set up their hard border and breaking the Belfast Agreement.

    1. It's not possible for the ROI to enforce new hard border customs arrangements in N. Ireland. Only the UK can do that.

    2. When I wrote ROI I clearly meant ROI. The UK will not set up a hard border in NI. The UK will allow free movement of goods between ROI and NI. The baws now in the ROI EU court.

    3. Where will the UK's new hard customs/migration border with the EU be then? Cairnryan?

    4. Customs are currently where they are. I see no need for any others unless a new shipping or airport is built

    5. So you are saying the UK will leave its border wide open to the EU?

      That would get it in serious trouble with the WTO never mind the uncontrolled immigration that would result.

    6. Oh look! It's a bus load of illegal immigrants popping up to Belfast to enter Precious. Nigel wants a border to stop them. Build That Wall. Look Her Up.

  28. The EU will eventually have to verbally threaten the UK with trade restrictions and attack our economy. This will rally the British people and ROI will suffer for this. The Belfast Agreement does not allow for ROI citizens to enter the British mainland. So who gets fucked Skier!

    1. What are the threats for? You said the UK would leave the border in N. Ireland wide open, so sorting the problem.

  29. Hi GWC - how does your theory work with freedom of movement? It doesn't seem to be compatible with big Boris's vision of UK freedom. You are too wrapped up with your hatred of ROI EU and catholics to see the mess thatMay and Boris have constructed. I voted leave but jeepers what a mess they have made of it. Blaming the EU, ROI and Catholics for the shortcomings of two political dipstics is going too far. Leaving the EU is our responsibility not the EU's. The Tory party have made an absolute arse of what could have been a reasonably easy settlement. Blame David Davis (who I used to rate) for splitting the divorce and future relationship for this. He was an arse, May was an arse, Boris is an arse, Ruth is a fat arse, and so are you if your prejudice doesn't allow you to see that this mess is down to a second rate group of UK politicians (Tories) making a huge fat arse of a negotiation. The EU (who I do not like) have made huge allowances for the crap negotiators from UK Govt - they now just want us to walk. If you don't believe me (a leaver) then I refer you to Trump's position on May's negotiations - he thinks the UK was crap. Nothing to do with Scottish Independence - just poor quality UK politiicians.

    1. That was a fair old rant about nothing but do go on. I do detest the EU corrupt org. ROI and the cover up over Catholic child molesting priests should not be allowed to go of the road map. I am an atheist Brit Scot. Up your kilt perv.

    2. The English nationalists are dumping N. Ireland. They've even fooled GWC into cheerleading it.

      'We brits will never enforce a border on the island of ireland!'.

      Aye, the border will be elsewhere.


    3. Hi GWC - your plan still doesn't deal with freedom of movement. With no border you might have all those catholics sneaking in to the UK from all over Europe.

  30. But what's this? Is the UK not breaking the gfa by enforceing a hard border with N. Ireland?

    Of course not; the posts are not in N. Ireland, so it's fine. Irish can do the same on their side. No enforcement in the North though!

    And GWC is happy to keep this hard border at Cairnryan post brexit; the one down the Irish Sea.

    'Thousands of litres of counterfeit vodka seized'

    More than 13,000 litres of counterfeit alcohol have been seized at Cairnryan near Stranraer.

    Customs officers searched a 40 foot trailer after it arrived on a ferry from Belfast.

    'Illegal immigrant increase at Stranraer and Cairnryan'

    THE NUMBER of illegal immigrants detained at the region’s two main ports more than doubled in just four years.

  31. And for balance. All perfectly legit as long as it's done on the Irish side.

    It's only a breach of the GFA if the brits do it in N. Ireland. They were the side that blocked border crossings and built a Berlin Wall with watchtowers and jackboots.

    'Irish police hold EU workers at Dundalk border'

    A County Armagh vegetable grower says businesses need more clarity about border controls, after eight of his workers were detained by Irish police on their way to work.

    Garda spokesman said such operations had been ongoing for several years.

    'Number of people detained during day-long immigration checkpoint in Dundalk'

  32. Did you know you can't get into Trrkey, Amrrica or Bllgium if you're a mmber of the Cmmnist Prrty?