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.