The Economist welcomes your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful of other readers. Review our comments policy.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Log in to your account.Don't have an account? Register
No compromise is possible on the issue of "transwomen are women". No, transwomen are not women. They are men with a mental disorder called gender dysphoria, and they deserve protection in keeping with their mental disorder. Sensible voices tried to stop the Gender Recognition Act in 2004, but were outvoted by "equalities liberals". This "discussion" will never end except by the recognition that the UK Parliament made a mistake in passing the GRA. It should be repealed. A number of transsexuals recognise that they cannot "change sex" and that the GRA is a disruptive piece of legislation. It conspicuously includes clauses which confuse "sex" and "gender" - very sloppy legal usage. Miranda Yardley, a "gender-critical transsexual" with a compelling analysis of feminist issues, agrees: http://mirandayardley.com/en/why-the-gender-recognition-act-2004-should-...
You are partially correct. Gender dysphoria is a symptom rather than the underlying issue. Also there are two completely different types of men who experience it. The first type are autogynephiliacs. Heterosexual men who are sexually aroused by the idea of themselves as women. It is a mental disorder. They are effectively cross dressing men. They experience very high rates of mental illness and transitioning has a high probability of failure as they are mentally male not female. The complicity of most of the medical profession in aiding and abetting their disorder is scandalous. Almost all trans activists fall into this category. As they are heterosexual men, women are indeed entitled to be concerned about these people invading female spaces. A high profile example of one of these autogynephiliacs is Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. They are obviously masculine men in drag in appearance. Jenner maintains a masculine personality and sexual role.
However the second type of transwomen are completely different. They are Homosexual Transsexuals. Jazz Jennings is an HSTS. HSTS are the type of trans people who are clearly born into the wrong body. Hence their very powerful gender dysphoria. They display very strong gender nonconformity from a young age. They usually have the desire to transition from a young age and transition successfully since it simply matches up their appearance with their femininity. Their brains are intersex. They tend to pass as women very easily. Most biological women are probably never aware that these transwomen are trans at all unless told. They are attracted to masculine straight men. In practical terms that means they are no threat to women but conversely their femininity places them at risk if they were forced into male spaces. Although born biologically male HSTS are more or less women in mens bodies. Transitioning allows them to live as women successfully with male partners although they obviously are unable to bear children.
The reason this distinction is so important is because HSTS will benefit greatly from medical intervention to help them transition and live as women but autogynephiliacs will most certainly not - in fact the complete opposite. The treatment for autogynephiliacs should be to prevent them from transitioning and to properly reestablish them as heterosexual men. Autogynephiliacs have hijacked the transsexual identity from the genuine transsexuals. Their absurd and aggressive trans activism has discredited all trans people in the eyes of everybody else and that is a disaster for HSTS transwomen who would benefit from legislation that recognises their situation. The GRA is good for HSTS but simply allows autogynephiliacs to become further enmeshed in their mental disorder. It is important that women concerned about the GRA are aware of the difference between autogynephiliacs and HSTS so they are able to protect themselves from the former without hurting the latter.
I am aware of the distinction which you make (Blanchard). I am glad that you explain it very clearly. Before the craze for transgenderism a handful of effeminate boys used to grow up, quietly "disappear" and reappear later as transsexual men with a very effeminate manner or living "as a woman". They were quiet and rather sad. In the age of glaring media attention and click-bait on the internet, narcissistic, autogynaephilic men like Bruce Jenner have terrified world-wide audiences into colluding with their mental illness, which is based on a dangerous and pornographic self-eroticism which is profoundly misogynist, because it denies a place in society to biological women. I am glad that you condemn the medical profession in no uncertain terms. I do too: they robbed me of the possibility of any face-to-face discussion with my then husband before his breakdown ("transition") and surgery. He is an AGP, not a life-long transsexual. He was not homosexual. He was also extremely callous and, according to Dr Alice Parshall, a consultant psychiatrist, "something of a psychopath". In other words he suffers very serious co-morbidities.