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 We must let them retroactively alter historical documents because to not let them do so would also “out” them.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.
I think many of us were crying into our soup tonight, because reality is the victim here, but to insist on trans dignity and ignore folk with DSDs and women shows a double standard. It cannot stand.
You’ve spelled Maya’s surname wrong, FYI it’s Forstater.
Oof…thanks for pointing that out. Will rectify!
This is a great piece, thank you.
Wonderful and sad piece. Thank you
Thank you Claire for speaking out.
No worries, Maya. Thank you to you for taking a brave stance too.
It’s a disgrace that such a supposedly learned MALE can reach such ridiculous conclusions.
It only goes to confirm my belief that our judiciary is neck deep in GAMPS.
This however, does not rectify nor justify how we are now legally supposed to lie and deceive not only ourselves but to the up coming generations that someones “feelings” override medical “FACT”.
Great price Claire as usual, Maya deserves unconditional respect too.
All I can think of to say here is “That bloody stupid man!”
I think the ultimate goal is the marketing of the female body : mother milk can sell , it’s easier to treat women as cows if they are not women anymore but “lactating beings” , surrogacy , it’s easier if you just deal with “uterus bearers” , prostitution and porn , it’s easier if they are just “front hole owners”. In a nutshel , it’s easier to go against human rights when we are not talking about humans anymore. And indeed easier to avoid pointing that only one kind of humans is being sold , when the other one , is buying. I’ve been scraching my neurones upon why there seem to be such a political, press, financial pressure towards this particuliar issue and it’s the only thing that ends up making sense. It’s markets , drugs for children, plastic surgery , selling of women products (babies, milk, body openings). It’s a breach against human rights in the end. My mind must be a little feverish. But it’s too weird. Too crazy…
I have some thoughts on this. I will get around to writing them down one day!
I am aware of the rather silly, but serious, misuse of the judge of information about Turners etc. But I have one question: why is it always women, who really fight their lives (and those of their daughters) for the right to be seen as those who matter in this male-dominated society, who are addressed by sad people who feel excluded or misjudged? We are already prone to take everyone’s yoke on our neck and always feel guilty for everyone’s misery, so why do you not address your story to the media and to men? If it is because you feel you cannot be open about your plight, think about the bravery and courage of women who have done that all the time! Some women have paid with their lives to do so!
Did you not see the part of the blog where I said the media does not listen to us either? Christ, there’s nothing like women tearing other women down. You go and write a blog, describing your genitals, and see how you feel. Btw, my real name is readily available, so thanks for making that assumption too.
Claire is a women, she comes to women for support. Is that allowed.
It is appalling and the woke cis judge needs to read this. I know he supports these terms, his judgement tells us he did.
This is heart breaking. Please dont think no one cares. I do. Many do. This nonsense is causing so much harm. You gave me more insight into a perspective I’d only read a little about. Be strong. Know people care and are also appalled by this mess.
Thank you. I really appreciate that 💜
The judge seemed to find the idea that sex is immutable to be absolutist, and there was a lot of discussion of intersex/DSD around that. From what I have understood of Claire’s writings it seems like intersex/DSD are immutable, so I don’t understand how that can used to show the opposite.
It doesn’t show the opposite. Really DSDs were irrelevant to the matter in hand. They were used to “prove” that sex is a social construct, I think. Of course, they don’t prove that either. It’s just, for some reason, that trans activists can never seem to discuss the validity of gender identity, without making this argument too.
Thank you Claire, your knowledge and clarity on matters intersex so vital.
Thanks Claire for this great statement. I’m so fed up with fetishists pretending to be intersex or that intersex has anything to do with trans. Grrr.
Thank you for writing this. The appropriation of DSDs into this argument is absolutely relentless, and it’s so lazy.
I don’t think speaking about difficult and personal truths (or saying ‘fuck’) ever strips someone of their dignity. Often enhances it.
Thank you. This comment genuinely made me smile! 💜
A heart rending article. Thank you for your elegant and measured response, to a mind boggingly idiotic judgement. What comes next, in this brave new world of science deniers? Shall we all be forced to say the sun moves round the flat earth? This absurdist rush, to sweep away biological realities, and hard won rights, is terrifying. Both your bravery and Maya’s, in speaking up, is humbling.
I hear you Claire
I feel more informed having read this perspective. I have certainly read about people with these conditions, but I did notice their opinion on their identity was not behind the narrative. I truly appreciate this and what it takes add your unique, unchosen experience to such a contentious dialogue. Thank you.
I am so glad I found your writing. I have been so frustrated by how this community is falsely represented. I have late onset CAH, and I realized it was bullshit when people seized upon how common this condition is to say that large numbers of people are neither male nor female. Then recently, my (adoptive) mother told me that she has MRKH, and I found your twitter after that. My mother said that when she was diagnosed as a teenager, the doctors made her feel like a freak and like she was not fully a woman. Even though by definition only a woman can have a congenital condition affecting the female reproductive system. But now 50 years later, so-called progressives say the same wrong, offensive things as the doctors did then, using real women as pawns to support gender theory. Anyway, thank you for educating me and helping me understand my mom. You do have dignity, and no one can take that away from you.
Thank you for your lovely comment and thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad that my writing has helped you. Solidarity and hugs to you and your mom. 💜
A better expression of Dignity is found in the song named so by Scottish rock band Deacon Blue. It connects dignity to home, work and faith. There is of course much more to it. My point is that unlike a slur like TERF, many concepts prefered by woke-cultists (and bureaucrats swayed by them) had a meaning before Tumblr and Twitter. E.g. the term “social justice” was coined by catholics in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, then furthered by labour and civil rights movements. Even “intersectionality” had a meaning in analyzing how class, sex and race/ethnicity might interplay; it was not originally for identity parades. Here in Sweden, where Anglo discourse is very influential and the alt-rightish camp is now much stronger & more vocal than the woke one, I see the secondary damage the latter has done. It’s now difficult to volunteer for a social committment (e g to our integrating Syrian refugee community making up 1,5 % of Sweden’s population; it matters very much how we relate to their plight and ambitions) without being seen as simply virtue signalling. To prove you’re an admittedly flawed & imperfect but socially responsible & caring human being, not just a poseur playing the saint, is now almost unattainable here. A near-future Swedish DSD campaigner will have very difficult to convince the public that it’s a just cause and not another cheap attention-seeking. I hope someone with lived experience of it will take up the task, although for now it seems to me almost mission impossible for such a voice to be believed to be genuine. Keep up, Claire
Thank you, I look forward to reading more of your writing.
All best wishes to you in 2020.
Thank you Claire for this eloquent piece!
My god, I finally read this in full and I am so fuckin angry and appalled. It’s difficult to believe this is real life.
I challenge the ‘but WHaT aBoUt *InTER*sEX’? bullshit every time I see it, and I frequently post your articles in response. You are owed such a massive apology from the judge, the media, from Stonewall to Pinknews and millions of individuals fuckwits. I’m so grateful for your bravery – you’re a better, stronger, more eloquent and restrained woman than I.
Hi Claire, I found you a while ago, and you really helped clearing up my mind and solidifying my ideas, plus a learned a lot from you, just one of your interviews helped me gather enough scientifical data (which is never discussed) and I just have to thank you for that.
But there is something that I would really appreciate if you could enlighten me about, and that is gender. It’s the one thing I’m not sure how to defend rationally when I talk to people about trans.
Could you tell me what you think about that?
My idea, right now is that gender either shouldn’t exist, if it just means something artificial, made up, like having long hair would make you belong to the female gender or wearing pink. Or, in this is the choice I lean to, we just need to modify a little bit, because there are things in gender roles that don’t really describe a real difference between men and women, but I’m sure that there are aspects of it that do. Men are more agreeable than women, more aggresive, are more into things, women are more agreeable, more nurtuting and more into people, these differences are real and I guess are part of the gender roles, and make up the truth underneath it. So I don’t think we have to let go of gender, but what I’m sure is that there are just two sexes as you very eloquently have explained many times.
If you rather answer me with a video or audio call, and have a discussion about it, I would be more than willing for it.
I’m just a chemical student, i’m not interesex or anything, I guess I’m basically a boring straight white male, but I think this is a very important issue we need to discuss, I’ve thought about not just the damge that it does to intersex people, but even trans, especially children and I feel I must know more about it in order to criticize it better.
But I totally understand if you’re busy and all, but please if you could answer me however you want, jus a text maybe, about what your idea of gender is, it would the be greatest!
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