I’m sitting here with the judgement in Maya Forstater’s employment tribunal in front of me and, honestly, finding it hard to find the words to express the frustration I feel.
Yes, the fact the judge says that sex is, apparently, now considered mutable is laughable and ridiculous. Yes, the implications of this for the rights of women, to recognise that their bodies are the source of discrimination around the world, is terrifying. Sure, we can pontificate philosophically about all of this. We can navel gaze and talk in lofty tones about it all, dress it up in feminist theory, thrown around by both sides. None of this will address the tears I dramatically cried into my dinner after reading it.
To give some context, I was alerted to the judgement by a dear friend of mine with Turners, one of the medical conditions labelled “not really male or female” by the judge because he was persuaded by the appalling work of Anne Fausto-Sterling. That’s Fausto-Sterling who I’ve complained about on this blog before for fetishising the bodies of people with DSDs, and misrepresenting the reality of our bodies and our lives to advance her career in the world of gender studies.
Here’s the thing…the judge goes out of his way to talk about the need for dignity for trans people. It’s important, we’re told, that we all pretend that the categories of male and female are nebulous and unimportant. That the feeling in someone’s head should override reality for the rest of us. That we all pretend that because someone doesn’t like the sexist stereotypes associated with their birth sex that they can actually be the opposite sex, and we must all accept this about them too, despite what our senses tell us. The vehicle used to achieve this is, as ever, DSDs.
Where’s the dignity for people with DSDs in all of this, as our complex and often emotionally difficult medical conditions are trotted out and prodded by the ignorant, discussed with morbid fascination by people who have no idea about the reality of them? Who gives a shit about what is being done to us?
We mustn’t discuss or acknowledge the sex of trans people, because to do so would “out” them. We must let them retroactively alter historical documents because to not let them do so would also “out” them. I hate to break it to the judge, but most trans people are easily recognisable as trans, whether their birth certificate correctly sexes them or not. Meanwhile, he thought nothing, as do so many people in this debate, of declaring that people with DSDs shouldn’t be considered male or female at all. Where does this end? To class us as “other” is to out us.
The only way we can counter this harmful narrative, is to out ourselves anyway. I have to write a blog, sit in front of strangers and describe my genitals, fertility status and medical history, just to be able to say “what trans activists say about us isn’t true. It’s unkind, unscientific and harmful”. Where’s the dignity in that? Where’s the newspaper column inches and TV shows for us? Where’s the outrage that a group of actually vulnerable people, just getting on with their lives, wanting to blend in and not be paraded for someone else’s party, are being mis-sexed?
There is no dignity, no compassion. We’re politicised and used as a footnote in someone else’s story. We’re prevented from being our own spokespeople. No one hears us. No one cares.
I could point out the scientific inaccuracies in the judgement. I could tell you all that the medical condition the judge refers to as “Turners mosaic” is actually mixed gonadal dysgenesis. I could point out that the inclusion of chromosomal conditions, such as Klinefelters and Turners (as in actual Turners) under the umbrella of intersex is by no means “settled science”. In fact, it’s highly contentious. We are not confused by the sex of these people. There is no ambiguity. I could even tell you that the word “intersex” isn’t scientific itself in this context. It wouldn’t matter.
The fact is people with DSDs have been stripped of their dignity, their right to be told the truth about their bodies and their sex, to have accurate information about their medical conditions and development. This is our history. It shouldn’t be our present and our future. It was what we wanted to end, but it’s now written down in a legal judgement in the UK that this is how the world should be, and to counter this is, allegedly, “anti-science” and undignified for trans people. It could lose you your job.
Well, to be completely undignified about it, fuck that. I hope one day the judge, and everyone merrily trotting out DSDs for the “dignity” of trans activists, feels as ashamed as I do right now.