As I mentioned last night, I wasn't sure whether the question in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll about dating and attraction was really important enough to warrant inclusion, but the reason I eventually left it in is that people seemed uncomfortable about the question being asked, and that in itself made it more interesting. That conclusion has been borne out by the sea of mindless abuse I had to wade through on social media this morning, and that I hadn't encountered after releasing the previous results from the poll. People don't like the numbers, so I'm demonised for reporting them and for asking the question in the first place - and we're not just talking about the standard knee-jerk allegations of "transphobia" here. Several people implied that I was essentially a rapist because I didn't understand the concept of consent - although how on earth they managed to reach that conclusion from the wording of the poll question or my decision to ask it is, I suspect, a mystery that will be baffling philosophers for millennia to come. The most serious allegation was that I am a "creepy nonce" - that tweet has been reported to Twitter by several people (I couldn't do it myself because the individual cowardly blocked me within seconds of posting it). I'll be interested to see if any of the usual suspects can actually bring themselves to condemn that sort of language, or at least disassociate themselves from it.
But to the very limited extent that there was any serious point behind the campaign of harassment, it was this: they claimed that the poll question was illegitimate because it wrongly implied that lesbian women and heterosexual men are sometimes pressurised to consider dating or having sex with trans women. That, of course, would only be a valid criticism if there is no evidence that people have been pressurised. I will now supply just a fraction of the mass of evidence that exists.
Exhibit A: YouTube video entitled "Your dating preferences are discriminatory"
Selected quotes: "Argument is that it's just a preference and you can't control who you're attracted to! (Spoiler: it's not.)"
"Would you date a trans person? If you said 'no', I'm sorry but that's pretty discriminatory."
"It really feels like you're reducing people just to their genitals."
"It's difficult, because some people have built their sexual identities on these repulsions [to certain genitals]. But I don't think they're innate at all...you can unlearn your own prejudices. It just takes time and conscious effort."
Exhibit B: BBC article entitled "We're being pressured into sex by some trans women"
Selected quotes: "One of the lesbian women I spoke to, 24-year-old Amy*, told me she experienced verbal abuse from her own girlfriend, a bisexual woman who wanted them to have a threesome with a trans woman.
When Amy explained her reasons for not wanting to, her girlfriend became angry. "The first thing she called me was transphobic," Amy said. "She immediately jumped to make me feel guilty about not wanting to sleep with someone."...
"I remember she was extremely shocked and angry, and claimed my views were extremist propaganda and inciting violence towards the trans community, as well as comparing me to far-right groups," she said."
"Another lesbian woman, 26-year-old Chloe*, said she felt so pressured she ended up having penetrative sex with a trans woman at university after repeatedly explaining she was not interested.
They lived near each other in halls of residence. Chloe had been drinking alcohol and does not think she could have given proper consent.
"I felt very bad for hating every moment, because the idea is we are attracted to gender rather than sex, and I did not feel that, and I felt bad for feeling like that," she said."
Exhibit C: Psychobabble article entitled "How to recognise transphobia - and what to do next"Selected quote: "A person doesn’t have to put these behaviors or beliefs into words for them to count as transphobia, either. Maybe they don’t consider trans people “real” men or women. Or they tell themselves, “I don’t have any problem with trans people — but I would never date one.”"