24 November 2022
by Don Urquhart
Biological sex is involuntary, gender is a choice. I am neither transgender nor a woman but am concerned that I know so little about such things. Instinctively I feel immense sympathy for anyone who feels trapped in the wrong body. God made a mistake with me. I should have lived out my days in a lean, lanky frame suitable for long distance running, my consuming passion. Instead He started me out as a cross between a Sumo wrestler and a particularly lethargic and well fed Tory backbencher. Neither of these was a career or sporting option for me.
20th November was the Transgender Day of Remembrance for those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. The day was founded to draw attention to the continued violence endured by transgender people.
It coincided with the start of the Football World Cup in Qatar, a state where LGBT people of all stripes are regarded as criminals.
It would have shown great courage for Harry Kane to wear the One Love armband for England’s match with Iran where human rights of all types are curtailed. It took much more for Ehsan Hajsafi, the Iranian captain to criticise his government in a press conference and for the whole team to refuse to sing the national anthem before the game.
Gender Dysphoria, the medical term for believing that your biological sex does not correspond with your gender, is a minefield for the most well-meaning. There are apparently many ways in which people can be addressed beyond Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms.
Sex, gender and sexuality constitute a wide multi-dimensional spectrum. You can mix and match in many different ways. I think it is fair to say that as long as you are happy about yourself and are not hurting anyone else, just get on with it. Not everyone agrees with me, including the government of Qatar. They will have their reasons for imprisoning LGBT people.
From a legal perspective most civilised countries have adopted a live and let live approach to sex, gender and sexuality. Yet in these civilised countries many people take a different view. 5 people were murdered this week in Colorado Springs because they were in a gay club. In UK law we no longer regard homosexual behaviour as criminal, but, of course, that is a long way from saying that the whole population agrees, just as bringing back hanging would have a fair chance of success in a referendum.
It is difficult to find reliable statistics on gender dysphoria but there are enough sufferers for it to be recognised as a mental health condition and a suitable case for treatment. I am not qualified to evaluate treatments but volunteer the unoriginal thought that physical changes, however wrought, have to be dealt with carefully.
I commend the Gender Identity Development service (GIDS) where there is expertise in this subject and where people’s lives are immeasurably improved.
Some biological women (known as TERFs) feel threatened by having female only places invaded by men claiming to be women. A TERF is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. TERFs do not want transitioned women to be allowed into ladies’ lavatories for example. Where do they want these people to perform their ablutions?
JK Rowling is a TERF. No sign of gender dysphoria at Hogwarts.
I would hope there could be a compromise along the lines of regarding the term Ladies on a toilet door to refer to gender rather than sex, remembering that sex is involuntary, gender is a choice.
Next week it might be one of the TERFs’ characteristics that becomes virally unpopular causing them to look for more kindness from the generality.