On Monday, The National newspaper in Scotland published an article by Stephen Paton, one of their regular columnists “Shameful antitrans activitst lack empathy in latest attacks”. His point was that there should have been enthusiastic support for yet another Day of Trans Remembrance for all the numberless people who have allegedly died as victims of transphobia. Stephen Paton said we should all be lighting candles in our houses and scorning anyone who denies endless evidence free claims about deaths and suicide which fuel the thin arguments of the Trans lobby, This lobby objects to women and gay and lesbian people organising around our own interests, and insist that this is “exclusionary” and “transphobic”.any concerns expressed about the beliefs they promote are hateful, and lacking in empathy. That was David Paton’s published rant. While I have no problem about people believing what they want, I do object to being repeatedly told that we who do not believe must believe or pretend to believe or prepare to be houdned out of public life. The National is not a good paper. It is mostly devoid of news, and full of opinions.
This article seemed to me to represent the worst of the maudling, false claims which are fuelling what increasingly feels like a war on women, Something in me snapped and I wrote this response and asked the National to publish it. They have not. So here it is: Read and enjoy! and pass it on. And let us all rage against the erasure of women and the persecution of those who protest.
23 November 2020
For favour of publication
On the matter of empathy (Stephen Paton 23 November)
I know I speak for many women when I write to you in utter frustration and anger at the continued vilification of anyone, but particularly women, who dares to contradict the insistence that we all have to agree with the currently fashionable transgender ideology. We are told that we must accept that children can be “born in the wrong body” having been wrongly “assigned a gender”on the basis of their genitalia. To me and most adults this is not a new frontier in the fight for human rights, but rather a relatively new minted belief that stems from and is allied to extremes of sexism and homophobia. Sexist stereotyping is at the heart of insistence that it is not “natural” for boys to like clothes and toys and books and activities that only girls are supposed to like, and vice versa for girls. Transgender beliefs deny same sex attraction, and therefore homosexuality. If sex has no meaning or definition, there can be no such thing as same sex attraction can there?
Your columnist Stephen Paton devoted a column (23 November) to tell us that we lack empathy and that are against equality because we object to the constant demand that we accept a hierarchy of oppression, which somehow once again has men right at the top. We who disagree are chided by Stephen Paton for a lack of empathy for transpeople on (yet another) day of remembrance. But no figures, no names, no inquests into these claimed deaths were forthcoming from Paton or anyone else. In fact Scotland, with no recorded murders of transwomen at all in over 10 years, seems to be quite a safe place for transwomen and transmen. Why not celebrate that? And remember instead the women who have been killed, the girls suffering and even dying from anorexia and other self harms? The truth is that there are statistically more transwomen serving sentences for murder and rape of women in the UK than transwomen who have been victims of murder.
Most women I know have huge empathy for the men and women and children who struggle with living in their sexed bodies. But that empathy does not mean agreeing to demands that deny the separate identity and needs of women and girls. Women and girls are being forced to accept men accessing our most intimate health care and other services where we are vulnerable to sexual and physical assault. The eminently sensible question “should men be allowed into showers with naked teenage girls, whether those girls agree or not?” is denounced as transphobic. If that is not recognised as a red flag, what will be?
Women and girls are abused and murdered on a regular basis in Scotland as in nearly every country in the world. 90 women have been killed in the UK is year alone during the Covid pandemic lock-up. We do know the names and identities of women killed and injured by men. There have been trials and inquests and fatal accident enquiries. When we count the women who are dead, we are not counting imagined deaths in places far away but actual women we have known in every town in Scotland. Women whose sisters and mothers and friends remember them. Women who have stood at school gates with other women, shopped, cooked, married, danced. Yet still women are told off by Stephen Paton and his ilk for having a feminist opinion.
The Scotsman reports today that half – yes half! – of all women and girls in Scotland were subjected to street sex based harassment by men and boys this summer. Those men know what a woman is. 80% of parents worry that their daughters will be sexually harassed. Most of the assaults are unreported. Whistles, lewd gestures, gropes and grabs, are all part of what girls grow to expect. We have to keep ourselves safe or be judged to have caused our own misfortune. Girls in school uniforms are subject to adult men’s lewd attentions. One of girls’ major complaints in surveys of school aged children is of sexual harassment by boys. The men frightening and offending against women and girls don’t stop to ask what pronouns they use, or whether they “identify as” women. They know what a woman is.
Unsurprisingly, it is girls who are particularly affected by trans-ideology. There has been a huge rise in the numbers seeking a medical solution having been wrongly promised hormones and surgery will release them from what seems to the adolescent girl the horror of being a woman. They will and do grow out of it if allowed to, but now are being encouraged to take life changing decisions before they mature. If parents object they are vilified as transphobic bigots and even accused of child abuse.
Accepting and embracing outrageous demands for women’s rights and children’s minds is not empathy, and it is not kind.
It’s time that there was a bit more empathy for women and girls. Erasing women’s existence as a separate sex with our separate rights and needs is not “empathetic”. And its time we had a bit more actual evidence of harm from those who would refuse us our own name and definition, and yet accuse us of lack of empathy.