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All you need to know about anti-trans activist Debbie Hayton

It isn’t often that I’m in the position of making analysis of people, however, it is clear that some action is required to expose an anti-trans activist whose representation has been magnified in the media, and who has, apparently been appointed as part of the LGBT+ committee on both the TUC, and in their teaching union. They have also written for or have mention in anti-trans articles Medium, The Times, The Guardian, their own blog, The Economist, numerous tweets, The Morning Star, Talk Radio and Quilette, and have featured on the BBC as a voice of a trans person – and in particular trans women and transsexual women.

Debbie's trade union links.

Debbie Hayton's Resume

Debbie Hayton didn’t transition that long ago, I’m guessing, from the articles I have read, that it was in about 2012/2013, and they went on to have lower surgery some 4 years later. Although this is of little relevance to Debbie’s activism per say, it’s worth a cursory mention of when she popped up as “trans” for historical reasons. Interestingly, we also started supporting transitioning people on Facebook in 2012 – with a strong emphasis on mental health, wellbeing and positivity. Our focus is always our members, and we have learned a lot from them, and are very grateful for their contributions and unending support.

Debbie Hayton and their identity

So, let me just start off by analysing what Debbie says about themselves and how this compares to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual definition at the time. Debbie would have needed to convince clinicians, based on the diagnostic criteria in order to get access to hormones and therapy at the time.

This page gives you everything you need to know about the DSM4’s criteria for diagnosis, and therefore access to hormones and surgery for trans people. I’ll just quote the relevant part here – emphasis is my own:

“There must be evidence of a strong and persistent cross-gender identification, which is the desire to be, or the insistence that one is of the other sex (Criteria A). This cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex. there must also be evidence of persistent discomfort about one’s assigned sex or a sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex (Criteria B).”

Criteria B: This cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex.  “the other set of gender norms seemed more palatable”.

Clearly, also Debbie has no profound discomfort over their assigned sex.Criteria B:

Cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex. 

"I’m male, I’m still male, but I find it more comfortable [presenting as a woman]" – Debbie Hayton

Quite ironic, yes Debbie, we do need to be honest about who we are. In the United Kingdom, trans people are often classified under the ICD – international classification of diseases, rather than the DSM, although it is recognised that the two often influence each other. The ICD classification is much more simplistic, however, it also serves a purpose. Here are the ICD classifications from the period 2012-2016:

F64.0 Transsexualism (ICD-10) 2010

“A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex.

"I don’t identify as a woman, I’m not even sure what it means to identify as a woman” – Debbie Hayton.

F64.0 Transsexualism (ICD-10) 2014

“A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex.”

F64.0 Transsexualism (ICD-10) 2015

A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex.

Now, forgive me if I’ve missed something here, but repeatedly posting on your blog, on huff post, on talk radio, that you don’t identify as a woman, rationalising and stating how you are a man, and that you’re not sure what it means to identify a a woman pretty much flies in the face of both the ICD classification of transsexualism, and DSM-4 criteria of the erstwhile “Gender Identity Disorder” presently called “Gender Dysphoria”.

Having talked with innumerable trans people, one of the most common reasons for delaying surgical treatment for people is when the psychiatrists aren’t convinced that this is necessarily the right course of action for this person, and Debbie admits in her writing that this was duly delayed for 4 years. This “thinking time”, however, wasn’t enough, it seems. When Debbie wrote “we need to be honest about who we are”, Debbie was unaware of the irony of this!

We have exclusive evidence of correspondence from Debbie, which, sadly, details their regret about having transitioned. From our experience, people who regret, often do so after surgery, when the full meaning of never being able to live as their assignation at birth comes home. I’m sorry that Debbie isn’t happy with their decisions, however, this also adds evidence that Debbie was not, after all, as transsexual as they thought they were.

When you ask for / need help from psychiatric services, it is very unhelpful if you aren’t entirely honest with the people who are trying to help you.

If I were to lie to my psychiatrist about auditory or visual hallucinations, there is a slight chance that I may be given anti-psychotics, which may well not be of benefit to me. In the same way Debbie, who is quite willing to say that they are male, and has no idea what it feels like to be a woman, might be regretful of the decision they made to permanently change their body, and be “forever dependent on artificial hormones”.

I am not saying that Debbie is not trans, or doesn’t have some experience of the feeling of being trans, however, as evidenced – Debbie does not meet the criteria for diagnosis on psychiatric terms of being a transsexual woman, or a trans woman judging by the things Debbie says about themselves.

Identity, self-ID, and the medicopathologisation of trans identity.

It is always at the back of my mind that many non-binary and indeed binary trans people might feel affronted by my use of texts which pathologise trans people, and how this has historically excluded non-binary people. I am very aware of this and would like to make it clear that this is not my intent in doing so. My point is that while simultaneously claiming to be “a true transsexual”, and therefore “acceptable” to cis people, Debbie has outed themselves as not actually meeting those criteria, and at present, nothing more. Readers will be aware that at Transiness, we support both self-ID and embrace a model of gender and sex which reflects current scientific thinking. That is: both gender and sex are highly variable, and we support anyone in their right to bodily autonomy, and that everyone deserves to have agency over their body and access to therapy and counselling services which may be of help to them. Both binary and non-binary people deserve respect, and access to services to allay bodily dysphoria should they require medical intervention to live a happy and authentic life.

Being trans isn’t a pathology in itself, self awareness of one’s transgender identity may or may not bring with it a strong need to be recognised in society as one’s actual identity, and people’s solutions to their situation are as varied as trans people themselves. This is where access to affirmative therapy helps people to feel more comfortable with themselves, their role in society, and weigh up the risks and benefits from social and physical transition. Therapy also helps us to explore what kind of trans person we are, and some people find it helpful to apply a label to that. Those labels are important, because it is through them that we are understood and judged by others. Being understood and respected forms part of people’s wellbeing.

There is no “cookie-cutter” trans person. It only becomes pathological, only needing treatment when it interferes with a persons social and/or psychological wellbeing. So self-ID is not only important for people who change their bodies with hormones and surgery, but also important for those who need recognition for who they are without having to resort to life changing, permanent and risky surgery, or having to take hormones. We need to appreciate that being trans isn’t a binary, and that there is variance in gender and identity and solutions to dysphoria are all very personal and unique.

So lets take a look at Debbie’s position on self-ID. Debbie wrote or was mentioned in articles in Medium, The Times, The Guardian, their own blog, The Economist, numerous tweets, The Morning Star, Talk Radio and Quilette, about self-ID.

This is an excerpt from Debbie’s argument which was published in the Times, arguing against the right of trans people to legally self identify, and for a medicalisation and a bureaucratic process to self identity:

Debbie Hayton on self identification

Now we’ve already established that, in Debbie’s own words, they don’t identify as a woman. Debbie’s identity does not meet DSM or ICD classifications of transsexualism as they continue to define themselves as being male.

It’s interesting that Debbie writes “throw my lot in with them” – is this a reference to trans surgery and their regret? They say they identify with women – rather than making any reference to who they actually are. Identity isn’t a case of being empathic or supportive of people, you can be empathic and supportive of anyone, human or not. Being trans is a recognition of who you are and how you fit in the world, how you perceive yourself and how you are treated socially is the cornerstone of dysphoria and why people change their pronouns, or their bodies. This is why trans people are who they say they are – it is not to be deceptive, or to make out that any of us are cisgender, it is both to resolve this conflict and help others to understand who we are and how we fit in a very gendered world. Binary trans people are valid, non-binary people are valid. Bodily autonomy is important for everyone, cis or trans. The real problem happens when others try to police our bodies and our identities.

Speak for yourself, Debbie. Trans women are women.

Elevating cisgender people’s concerns over those of trans people is cis-supremacy. Domination and control of trans people’s identity is cis-supremacy.

Supremacism is an ideology which holds that a particular class of people is superior to others, and that it should dominate, control, and subjugate others, or is entitled to do so. The supposed superior class of people can be an age, race, species, ethnicity, religion, gender or sex, sexuality, language, social class, ideology, nation, or culture, or any other part of a population.

Debbie Hayton in the Economist

Here, Hayton writes to the spectator, deligitimising trans people’s identity in favour of what they call the objectivity of dividing people not by how they identify, but by their reproductive capability. Bio-essentialism is historically the philosophy that trans exclusive radical feminists have used in order to maintain their supremacy over trans women.

Here, Hayton attempts to validate their own position, while punching down on non-binary people. This is another form of cis-supremacism – that no trans person deserves respect or is valid unless it takes the form of the dominant, cis-centric group. When we are looking at equality: and to do, say and publish things which are progressive and inclusive, this is not the way forward.

In identifying “with women”, Hayton is found to be consistently cis-supremacist in their writing – without providing nuance or balance. The key as a trans advocate, and to act with humanity and compassion, is not to explore how to exclude trans people from society, not to support a status quo which sees trans people’s identity as “just feelings” which can be ignored with impunity, but how to include trans people in society – in sports, in welfare provision, within healthcare.

Hayton declares their cis-supremacist ideas and punches down on non-binary people, and those who do not undergo medical transition.

And toward the end of the article, Hayton calls trans women and people “dishonest”. They use their own experience to talk for themselves, yet use “we” in order to signify “all trans people”. Policing and controlling trans people is not progressive, just because Debbie Hayton does not identify as a woman, does not mean that trans women, and transsexual women, do not exist. Debbie Hayton’s anti-trans activism, affiliation with transmisogynistic people, and hate groups.

Debbie Hayton’s association with anti-trans groups, people, and campaigns is well documented. Anyone who has been part of twitter for the last few years is very aware of what has been said, and by whom over the years. One of these campaigns, arguing for the expulsion and marginalisation of trans people through biological essentialism and cis-supremacy resulted in a billboard quoting a mantra held by the group with the dictionary definition of a woman. The argument is that by including trans women in society, it re-defines what it means to be a woman as a class, and cis-women aren’t happy with it.

Debbie in part of the campaign against trans women’s inclusion in society as women.

Here is Debbie Hayton with anti-trans campaigner “Hope Lye” (pronounced H-o-p-e L-i-e) who is well known to the trans community, and has been expelled from every trans support community in the UK, and well known on twitter for their anti-trans remarks. They describe themselves as a “gender non-conforming man”.

Debbie Hayton (center) and Hope Lye (right).Debbie Hayton’s affiliation with anti-trans group “Woman’s Place UK” whose purpose is to maintain supremacy over and control of trans women. Debbie Hayton’s dialogue published and supported by an anti-trans site. “Peak trans” is anti-trans dialogue for: this is when I became so anti-trans I campaigned against trans people’s rights and freedom.

Debbie Hayton has also written to the Express, and the Spectator campaigning against trans children’s services.

Debbie Hayton, doctor Debbie Hayton, lobbying Scottish Parliament to maintain a process which supports a biomedical model of segregation, marginalising non-binary people and forcing people to out themselves as trans:

Debbie also supports well known transphobe Julie Bindel, who recently wrote an article demonising and misgendering Rachel McKinnon, a trans woman and athlete.

Conclusion and closing remarks

Anyone claiming to be on the side of trans people, or acting on their behalf must be accountable both for their actions and affiliations. As an umbrella term “trans” includes a huge variety of people and situations. Care should always be taken by activists, by therapists, by anyone claiming ownership or belonging to such a marginalised group should not to put themselves and their own self interest above those who they purport to represent.

The acid test for those spokespeople includes:

  • Do they stand up to scrutiny, are they living by the same standards?

  • Do they listen to and respond to their community, are they part of and connected to the community – or are they part of a fringe group?

  • Do they uphold cis-supremacy, governance and authority over trans people or policing of trans people?

  • Are they using their platform to elevate the voices and experiences of those less fortunate than themselves, do they represent them?

  • Are they affiliated with any anti-trans groups, people or organisations?

  • Do they focus on how to include trans people in society, rather than exclude them for any reason?

Further reading:

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