A new direction in trans and TS activism.


For at least 5 years now, trans people have been the target of media hatred and the "gender critical" movement has gone from strength to strength. Not, by all accounts successfully legally: certainly a great deal of money has been wasted in attempting to legitimise hatred in the recent court cases in the United Kingdom, as we are all very much aware. But significant cases - like the Bell case have had serious ramifications worldwide. The "transgender tipping point" highlighted by Time magazine was not the tipping point we were wanting, by any stretch of the imagination. The tactic from trans activists has been this:

  • gender-critical movement makes unsupported allegations

  • Allegations are then investigated, taking a great deal of time and refuted

  • GC movement makes more unsubstantiated claims

  • Trans people become overwhelmed with firefighting and burn out

Psychological studies show that even if a claim against a minority group is clearly wrong and harmful, the more that it is repeated, the more that people - those not particularly invested in "the debate" internalise such arguments. People are inherently lazy - and this is also the reason why we have repeated adverts on television and the media invading our every action. Psychologically, it works. Purely in numerical terms, we are outnumbered by a factor of many times. We know by recent you-gov polls that about 25% of cisgender women and up to around 40% of cisgender men hold gender-critical views about trans women. So in reality we are talking, although not a majority, certainly an overwhelming number of people hostile to what seems to be an invasion of their space. What they are against, always, comes down to the integration of trans people within a cisgender hegemony. They see us as an invasion in their country, their spaces, their land. We are foreigners and they are afraid of us. We also know that the Government in the United Kingdom is very much against the integration of trans,ts and non-binary people. Fears have been spread about a minority of offenders - some of whom were trans-activists (action for trans health springs to mind), and what a certain perp did was horrendous. I have to say, it made me feel physically unwell.

Recently, I came across this article from Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad in relation to the integration of islamic refugees in Western countries. Here, he talks about the way that Islamic refugees can find safety in a foreign country - what that country needs and what its problems are. The similarities between the hatred directed at Islamic people and hatred directed at trans people are strikingly similar. But, instead of outright refuting and denying that problems exist within the community, he clearly states that it's against everything he stands for. He encourages exactly the opposite behaviour from people to their accusations. He doesn't try and unpick the arguments to any great degree, much more of what he writes is about encouraging safe integration, he talks about the concerns of the host nations - no matter how irrational and reinforces that Islamic people desire kindness, fairness and integration - and above all, safety, much like the host country. He provides an illuminating insight:

The root cause for this distressing trend [of right wing dominance] is that the indigenous citizens in these nations are becoming increasingly resentful and frustrated. They are feeling neglected and as though their rights are not being protected by their leaders and governments. - Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad

Now at this point, I'd like to state that I'm an atheist, I have no affiliation with any religion and my concern is with integration, and freedom from suffering for trans, non-binary, ts and intersex people (TNBI). But as an egalitarian and intersectionalist, I am affiliated with every minority group. We all suffer from similar kinds of issues: worries and fears by the majority group about change and integration. To cisgender people, it seems all very sudden and frightening that people can change their bodies and demand integration in their society. Their schema had not previously allowed for this to happen and to them, we are alien, unknown, frightening and intimidating. We do things to our bodies that horrify them. And if we do that, who knows what else we could do? And this takes me neatly on to exterminationism. It is a reflex action: when people see something alien invading their country and their spaces it is natural for them to defend them. In some cases, people can be whipped up into a frenzy and radicalised - spurred on by those around them and it becomes, rapidly, a case of group psychology, herd behaviour. As a minority group, we can see this happening, and in our defence, we imagine how this could deteriorate into a worst-case scenario. Our minds are built to protect us, but sometimes they over-react. Social exclusion is excruciatingly painful, and as humans, we are intrinsically social animals. It is a natural and reflex reaction to plan for the worst and to talk about those fears. But we must be careful not to alienate ourselves from the cisgender majority around us. People do not like to think of themselves as inherently evil, and to call such behaviour out only serves to drive a wedge between us: which is good for neither party. If we were to experience this kind of "purging" from society, what lessons can we learn from history about people who have survived genocide? This article addresses that issue, from many differing perspectives - including going into hiding (going stealth). However, one of the most effective ways of surviving, despite your job and social class, is social integration. It means fostering and developing relationships with cisgender people around you: making allies. To do so, we need to move away from reacting to the hyperbole, we need to distance ourselves from our fears and reassure ourselves that through integration, we will gain acceptance. And to do so, we need to think more about how to build relationships, rather than how to deconstruct myths. If there is a "gender ideology", then that ideology must be intolerance of people within our community that do harm to others. We must be seen to be proactive in admonishing those who do harm to others: Karen White, although not trans - we must vocalise how we feel about that situation. As a TS woman, and I'm a woman first and TS second, I would feel terrified as well if I was in a situation where I was sharing space with Karen. A new direction in trans activism means a cultural shift away from a defensive position to one of serving the community. It is, after all, what many of us crave: to help other people, to establish meaningful, kind and indeed loving relationships and to be at peace with those around us. Many of us are survivors of the most horrific abuses for being trans. We need peace in order to recover our trust in those around us, and we need peace in order to earn the trust of those that see us as invaders. We have so much to give: especially to others who have also survived trauma. It is understandable that some of us get angry, that we fear the world is cruel and unhospitable because many of us have truly suffered, but we cannot win hearts or minds being unhospitable ourselves. We need to continue to consider ourselves as guests in all spaces, not demand our place, as we are seen as invaders. If people are afraid, we need to offer reassurance. Our burden is ours to carry but our healing should start at home: within our own communities: we must first heal ourselves, and then we can heal others.

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