Most of you, by now, have been wondering how it is I came to be involved in the gender critical movement. Here is how it all started. The government put out a survey for trans people asking them to respond to questions regarding Gender Recognition Act Reform. I don’t agree with self-ID. I think it is one of a number of possible ways that potentially predatory men could find loopholes to gaining access to women’s spaces. For instance, in the prison service, as of now, the decisions of where to put a trans person is typically made on a case by case basis. Sometimes mistakes are made. That is the model I support for doing things- on a case by case basis, those with a GRC, who have absolutely been dedicated enough to go the length of obtaining one, are housed in the prison of their gender. I do not believe that sex and gender are the same thing. I still don’t believe this. I’m more than happy to refer to myself as an adult human female. It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m less comfortable with the word “woman”. Woman to me, seemed to connote a particular set of characteristics that I do not possess. It doesn’t mean necessarily frail and fragile. Actually, the ideal of woman in my head was someone who was strong, and probably masculine in personality but feminine in presentation. Someone who gave off the vibe “crush me with your high heels, mistress”. Metropolitan, urbanite, elite women, who were always dressed for the occasion and were very judgemental of those who didn’t quite make the mark.
So no, woman is not a term I am especially comfortable with. I sat and watched Gill Smith give a speech to Woman’s Place UK in which she says as a detransitioner, quite passionately, “if you are a woman, then the word woman is for you too” and her Glaswegian accent stating that phrase floated about my mind at various points during my time in this movement. It didn’t quite work out for me though, and I’ll come to that later. My main objection to the word “woman” now is not so much those connotations but more, why transition and walk around calling yourself a woman? If you’re going to transition then just do it.
Anyway, the government puts out this survey so I respond with my answers. I then see the LGBT Charity Stonewall sending around a list of already chosen for them answers, asking them to send them to everyone they know and fill the survey out with these pre-filled answers. This is a very sly underhand tactic. Imagine you are a good decent person or even wish to be seen as one, and your LGBT friend sends you a petition and says “fill it out with these answers, you’re helping trans people”. You’d probably do it, and it takes zero effort. Consequently, a survey that took me about 25 minutes to diligently fill in with proper answers now takes someone 5 minutes to fill-in with Stonewall’s prescribed answers. The survey was specifically for trans people themselves, and what I saw on my social media was a lot of people who are not trans were filling in this survey, having no knowledge of the issues, with Stonewall’s answers. So, they have already made the responses to this survey somewhat null and void, as I see it because they are skewing whatever data could be collected from it- bearing in mind that some of the questions were simple yes/no questions. So, being a fairly regular twitter user anyway, I take to twitter to discuss all this.
I start following some feminist accounts who also have these same concerns about gender self-ID laws. At first, I found some of their language upsetting. Upsetting is the word for it I think. What then followed was explanations from many of them about how they had no issues with trans people personally, just that they didn’t believe you can change biological sex. I thought, well I don’t either, because I don’t and I still don’t. I would then reply but isn’t gender really more off a social role/process. I don’t think I’m male, but I present in the world as a man, am a man, etc. The replies came that they thought gender was an oppressive hierarchy and that we really should be doing away with gender. Bearing in mind, I wasn’t especially new to this form of feminism. During my first attempt at university, and back in my left-wing days, I was on the committee for the Feminist Society at Oxford Brookes. We were more the woke kind of feminists though, and very anti-TERF. I had a political change of heart which is irrelevant to this particular story, but just to clarify I am no longer a feminist of any kind and I am most certainly not left-wing. Again though, not the first time I had heard these sorts of arguments. I had, but I’d dismissed them without thinking through their positions properly. This was the first time I really truly considered- but what if they are right? So I start tweeting on this:
When it came to number 3 in that list I wondered- what it? It started out with me imagining that gender was entirely and utterly a social construct, not something I’d particularly ever believed before- in large part due to my experiences with dysphoria. I started to unpack it all- what if as a child, people could just kind of sense that I was a dirty queermo kid, and encouraged me to be butch because this is what they expect of lesbians. Let’s reassess what are some of the ways in which I was encouraged to be masculine and thus nurtured into my current disposition. I clashed with them- because, actually no, I wasn’t especially “raised to be butch”. I just kind of was gender-nonconforming, I didn’t know why and I didn’t care why. Why do you like the things you like? Does anyone need to sit and unravel the structure of the universe in order to figure out the very inane question- why do you present this way and enjoy these hobbies? It was frightfully self-indulgent in some ways and then in other ways not. I direly desperately wanted a way out of having to be trans. I hated being trans. My ideal would have been to be a heterosexual feminine woman to have kids to raise them as a Christian, to not have to give my faith nearly as much thought as I have on account of being trans/queer. Actually, my ideal would have been to just have been born a heterosexual man, but I couldn’t magically make that wish come true. There are no magical spells. If I couldn’t be a heterosexual feminine woman, then the thing I would have preferred to have been after that was lesbian. Being transgender, in my eyes was far worse than being a lesbian could ever be. I so direly, whilst in this movement, wished to be a lesbian. Never mind that I am actually bisexual.
I should clarify- my sexual orientation has experienced some fluidity during the process of transition. Before transition I think I was probably vaguely attracted to boys, my crush was Draco Malfoy truth be told- but on the whole, far more attracted to women. I innocently told someone that I fancied girls at school, when I was 11 not fully understanding the weight of such a statement or why, because I was quite a naïve child, it was any different from expressing an attraction to men- which of course it shouldn’t be, but that’s not the point. The point is it was. What followed was relentless amounts of bullying, verbal harassment, social isolation and so on that followed me around for years and which I never really shook off until I was 15 and started getting involved in theatre backstage. In the thee-air-ter it was very okay to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, whatever. It was almost mandatory. Jokes aside- my back story was one that could very easily be manipulated by the gender-critical movement. A few things happened during this early stage- I wrote about it all for one. I started unpacking gender. Never mind that gender was not really something I thought about much as a trans person, but was instead a topic that I found painfully dull. This is not to say I had never thought about gender, I had- I thought about it a lot when I was pre-transition and a lot in my early transition period in 2012 (hence, my involvement with the Feminist Society). It is to say that for the past 5 years or so I had really just been transitioning and not giving much of any thought to gender.
This time I decided to unpack gender to see if I could convince myself out of my gender dysphoria. I followed lots of detransitioners on twitter and I interacted with them, listened to their stories, listened to the ways that they then sought to cope with gender dysphoria. I did a lot of reading around the subject, which on reflection is a bad thing to do- I am defining, for clarity, reading “around” a subject here as reading blog-posts that people have written online, reading articles, watching videos, as opposed to reading actual feminist texts. I read parts of these by proxy- because these were sometimes referred to in online articles and such. My suggestion now for people engaged in a subject is to go straight to the sources themselves. I wrote, a lot, you can see some of what I wrote on this very same blog. To the present day, sometimes a notification pops up on my phone to point out that people have liked one of my old posts. I thought through it, what if I was encouraged by my surroundings to be masculine by others because they could sense I was a lesbian.
At this point, I had completely discounted my attraction to men. I was fully immersed in the Blanchardian typology, any trans man with any level of attraction to someone who wasn’t female was autoandrophilic- the trans man’s version of autogynephilic. I was either a sexual fetishist who had been driven to transition by strong sexual urges, the desire to find a mate and to be attractive to a mate, in love with the idea of myself as a man. It was either that or I was a homosexual transsexual. In the end, I just stayed very silent about having any attraction to men at all. When I left the GC it took a considerable amount of time to reconcile myself to my bisexual sexual orientation again. That’s a process, by the way, that I had not had to go through since being a teenager. I reframed my entire narrative through the archetype of Blanchard’s homosexual transsexual, I never openly defined myself as such but that was how I presented myself to the world because it was what I wanted to believe because it was better than being a dirty fetishist. Privately however, I submitted to the thought that I must be a fetishist. I find it all somewhat laughable now that I seriously struggled with these thoughts that I was a dirty fetishist.
I reframed my childhood experiences of bullying, having spent my school years quite conveniently for the GC movement identifying as a lesbian. It’s hard to unpack this and I’m not sure I know how. You either believe in sexual fluidity or you don’t so I’ll leave that for you to decide. I reframed my experiences of what I knew to be true about myself. The thing is, I always have been fairly gender-nonconforming, see me here at 15.
I was always just kind of masculine. I didn’t actively attempt to be. I was just doing what felt most natural for me to do. There were times when I felt pressured so I didn’t do what felt natural for me to do, eg. see here.
It’s awkward isn’t it? I look uncomfortable, don’t I? I was. In those instances, I usually got smashed to cope with dysphoria. I discounted all that. Having been encapsulated by their very rigid ideology that explained everything and had that element of absolute certainty, I actively discounted my own experiences, thoughts and feelings regarding the matter. I did this on a daily basis. I started to frame gender dysphoria as something created by external pressures placed upon to be masculine but at the same time to punish me for it. I reframed it in terms of “internalised misogyny”. I even began to wonder if I was masculine because of internalised misogyny. What was it about femininity that I was so uncomfortable with? Why did I hate women? I convinced myself that discomfort with femininity meant that I must hate women, and myself. I. Was. Unravelling. That is the thing that no one ever pulled me aside to say. I was obsessive. I was on twitter all the time. I couldn’t stop thinking about gender. It was emotionally incredibly unhealthy. I was engaged in an obsessive depressive thought pattern regarding these issues. It was obvious to friends. It was obvious to family. Some did try to intervene but I discounted what they had to say.
*pause* – I’ve just chuckled to myself whilst writing this because I find it ironic on reflection that this story actually mirrors the story of some of the detransitioners that I have read. The narrative that they transition and become obsessed by gender. They join an online group and spend most of their lives posting online in these echo chambers so that no one ever challenges their point of view. They live, eat, sleep, breathe gender and it is all they can think about. They are engaged in obsessive depressive thought patterns about it. They are deeply unhappy and unravelling and it becomes obvious to people but they won’t listen to those willing to say something and the people they do listen to won’t say anything. – I sometimes wonder if we aren’t living in a simulation and in those moments I’ve a tendency to chuckle.
At the same time, whilst unravelling, in May of 2018 my uncle had broken his neck. It is still difficult to write about this part. His personal privacy and the privacy of all my family members is something that I value, so I’m going to give as little detail about this as I possibly can in order for this to blog-post to make sense. He broke his neck, was put into an induced coma. We were told he would never walk again. My aunt who was the person to give medical consent signed a DNR for him because they’d had these sorts of discussions late at night and she knew for sure he wouldn’t want to live if he couldn’t walk. He woke up out of this coma. He went through months of surgery and recovery from surgery. He went through months of intense physiotherapy. He is now walking but not without his putting in a tireless amount of effort because he was insistent that he was going to walk again. He is also still disabled as a result of this. That’s as much as I’m able and willing to share on that subject.
The point is that had happened whilst I was on twitter discussing gender self-ID but before I had made the full plunge into gender critical twitter. Gender was a problem that I thought I could solve. It gave me a sense of control in a world where I didn’t have any. If you thought my personal problems were over at that point, then you’d be mistaken.
In November of 2018, my mum was diagnosed with a stage 3 aggressive breast cancer. One of those cancers that, yes there is a high survival rate for breast cancer, but we were told a few things about her cancer which- again, I value the privacy of my family members so I won’t share them. During this time period, I sincerely didn’t know whether or not my mum would be around in 2020. There were some spots on her lung which we didn’t know whether or not were signs of metastatic cancer or benign spots. There were months of gruelling chemotherapy & radiotherapy & tests & so on. Over a year of not knowing what to expect. The spots turned out to be benign and my mum has tentatively beat the bastard thing as of her most recent scan all looks clear, however they won’t give an all clear until 5 years have passed.
The sure certainty of a fundamentalist ideology, gaining back some level of control in my life where I felt I had next to none, the idea of a problem that I could solve. I could fix being trans. I didn’t have to be trans. I could just think differently and then everyone would be happy with me finally. I wouldn’t have to deal with the issues that come from being trans. I came off hormones, off and on, off and on. I did a video about precisely that here which is still public so you can all see it. I speak in the video of personal problems but that I want to respect the privacy of my family members. It’s so clear in this video that I am unravelling though. It is obvious from a mile off. You’ll have to forgive me for how out of chronological order this all is. I’m writing what I remember in the order that I remember it.
During this time, Rosa Freedman had tweeted out that she had been speaking to trans people, reading their stories, and listening to their experiences and she learnt a lot from me, Cursed E, Katy Montgomerie, and Ramendik. To be frank, I am nervous of even mentioning Rosa’s name in this blog-post because I saw after that tweet the dog-pile of the next few days. From that moment on Rosa was an apostate for daring to have the audacity to speak to trans people. At that time, I was One Of The Good Ones TM so the response was “well, agree with you on Rhys but the rest of them *insert expletives*”. That’s probably my moment of temporary internet fame.
I suppose GC twitter is in tatters isn’t it. I don’t want to make Rosa’s current situation any worse or stoke the pre-existing tensions. I stan Rosa Freedman. I don’t always agree with Rosa Freedman all the time but I do stan her. Of anyone that was in this movement, Rosa took the time to reach out to me and ask me how I genuinely was. Told me to ignore the extremist idiots I was getting on twitter. Told me to take a step back and to take a break from twitter. Rosa offered to get my Mum a sheitel – the Yiddish word for wig, and a special kind of wig worn by Orthodox religious Jewish women. She didn’t even know me massively well at the time but that act of kindness in the midst of everything is, to be frank, something I will never forget. Rosa, with the noise of all these children running around in the background, calling for the kids, telling them to go away and do x and then coming back on the phone “sorry, I’m looking after…” and would dive right into a full on explanation, and then immediately ask me “how’s your Mum?” That was all very human and normal and one of the things from this time period that I’ll always look back on fondly. I wanted to share that bit but I’m not going to give any air time, any at all, to the current drama. Enough people already have.
Back to my unravelling then- I changed nothing about my presentation. Why should I? Despite the thoughts of being masculine potentially being internalised misogyny I thought- eh no, they’re pro-gender nonconformity right, so trying to get me to a point of wanting to detransition & uphold gender norms by engaging in femininity because that is then what I’d be doing at that point under their particular paradigm, I thought well I’ll change nothing about how I present why not just undergo an attempt at medical detransition. I came off my hormones. Part of this was- the anxiety that some of my family have had around my transition and how life will go for me and wondering how long I had left with my Mum. I wanted to do something right. I wanted to make something right. If I could just not be trans, then I could make that portion of my life okay. Coming off hormones was a mistake. I hadn’t told the GIC that I was doing this as there currently is about an 18-month period in between every appointment I have with them. So, I came off hormones for a period of about a month, for the 3 months before that I had gone a week or so off, a week or so on, at the end of two months of coming off on hormones- I stopped and thought, I should do this properly. I keep coming off hormones to feel dysphoric to go back on them. What if I just ride out the dysphoria? I came off hormones completely for about 2 months at the end of which I was clinically depressed again. I went to see my doctor, again not telling him what I was doing with my hormones at that time, and asked him to write me a prescription for sertraline. I hadn’t been on sertraline at that point since 2015. I hadn’t needed any SSRIs or anti-depressants since I’d made the decision in 2015 to take my transition seriously.
Let’s backtrack- in September 2012 I asked my GP for a referral to the GIC, I was incredibly dysphoric at that time with absolutely no medical intervention whatsoever. By September 2013, I still hadn’t heard anything and then moved addresses. In 2013, I was clinically depressed at this point, asked my GP surgery to chase up CHX to explain I’d changed addresses and I was told “we don’t do that”. Phoned the CHX reception a couple of times but couldn’t get through. Consequently, I had a missed appointment because my appointment letter was sent to my old address and I was discharged. In 2015, when I started taking my transition more seriously, I chased up my referral to Charing Cross. My first appointment was not until 2017. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. It took five years for me to eventually get a first appointment. They’re really rushing to trans us all though eh?
Point being, 2015 was a turning point in my life. I changed my name by deed-poll. I started taking transition seriously. I started doing things to help myself. I was applying for jobs. I eventually got a job. I got my life back on track. Pieced myself together bit by bit after having had a mental breakdown in 2014, in the aftermath of the suicide of my friend Oliver Wortley.
It took a long time to piece myself together. I was already depressed and struggling to cope when that particular bit of news regarding my friend hit. When that turning point came though, in late 2015, I managed to lower my doses and wean myself off sertraline. I don’t particularly want to make this blog post a story of my life, because it isn’t. But I do want to express the anger of- having already been through the trials of life’s tragic circumstances and being surrounded by my own family going through their own trials of life circumstances, that I think some people look on at the ex-GC crowd and they wonder why we are so angry. I had built myself back up. I had got myself to a point of going back to university. I still have, and then stupidity after stupidity seemed to keep hitting me. I was overwhelmed. I did not know how to cope. My life sounded like an EastEnders episode. I’m sat here, wreck of a human- female to male transsexual having got over a mental breakdown after the suicide of my friend I start piecing my life together and then my uncle breaks his neck to be told he can never walk again and whilst he is slowly but surely learning to walk again my Mum gets cancer.
We’re angry because we were weak and vulnerable. I don’t see any shame at all in admitting that we were ripe for being manipulated. I don’t look down on this who have these sorts of life circumstances, at all. In that headspace I could have just as easily joined a religious cult to be honest. I think I was angry because people could see me unravelling and they, perhaps unwittingly, assumed I had more agency in that situation that I did. I don’t know. I can’t mind read so I won’t guess at people’s motivations or thoughts or assume that they even had any, to be honest. I know that on several occasions’ ideology was put before my personal well-being by those on GC twitter. Which begs the question doesn’t it? Why stick around? Why keep coming to twitter? Playing out the psycho-drama of trying to exert some control in my life does explain some of it but it doesn’t explain all of it.
I did delete some of my tweets from back in the day. Mostly because my twitter profile is under my real name and I did wonder what being part of this movement might do to future career prospects, given that I am currently studying Politics. For a multitude of reasons, none of them having to do with being “oppressed and silenced”, but if you are pursuing a political career then this kind of stuff may leave a mark. So, not all of my tweets remain, but some do. One of them was quite helpfully stored on the thread-reader app. To track the time frame of this, this tweet was sent out on March 7th.
Carey Callaghan responded to that tweet. Jane Clare Jones responds to that tweet. Very rapidly I can see my following increase. When I started tweeting about this stuff my account had a following of 600 odd people. When I would tweet something out it would get more likes than I had ever seen anything on my social media get.
(Redacted- new screen shot to be updated in due course.)
It might seem small, frivolous and stupid to some people, but at that time in my life- it meant something to me. I see my following going up and up every day. I’m merrily tweeting away. At the peak of my twitter “fame”, I had 1800 followers. Again, this sounds ridiculous now and will probably sound even more ridiculous to you dear reader if your twitter following is anything over 5000 but for me, a big thing. Debbie Hayton is following me, Kathleen Stock is following me, Helen Joyce is following me, Jane Clare Jones is following me, Stella O’Malley is following me. Every time someone like that would follow me- I got a weird rush of dopamine to the brain. It seems stupid now and it *is* largely stupid to me now, but fame of that kind of semi-famous sort, the ability to name-drop; These are all things that I strangely valued for reasons I still can’t quite put my finger on. Youth is truly wasted on the young, eh?
Tweet after tweet after tweet… this is that part of this where it really did feel all so wonderful. Life was kind of shit outside of this entire bubble. But I go from 600 to 1000 followers in a matter of a couple of weeks, when tweets went viral, I was all of a sudden gaining 50 odd followers a day. That had never happened to me before.
Everyone really liked me and cared about me, or at least that is how it appeared when I mistook vapid online interactions for genuine human connection. I get connected to a trans woman in the United States called Kinesis who is part of an organisation called “TransRational”. She asks me if I’d like to join. I say- yes, I’ll join. We had a discord server for TransRational where we would try to solve all of the problems that “the transgender question” posed. This is also where I met Nell/@drawnoutofshape who features later on in this story too as she is also now ex-GC. In fact, Kinesis is also ex-GC as it goes. In TransRational we were working to fundraise for domestic violence shelters specifically for trans women- in the hopes that they could use their own separate shelters and never have to go to women’s DV shelters. We started writing piece by piece our manifesto. That alone was very slow going. Trying to get agreement of all the members was difficult. Some were GC feminists, some were trans and the idea of the organisation was to bridge-build. We came up with an entire scheme for definitively proving once and for all if trans women who had been on estrogen for any length of time had the same physical advantages as men. The plan was to hold an Olympics including all the different kind of sporting events where everyone competed against each other so we could see the end results, provided these sports were not full-contact sports that is. This sounds ridiculous now but the plan was to grow TR until it reached the stage of being able to manage to fundraise and plan these sorts of things. On reflection, absolutely ridiculous- but a nice fantasy world for me to escape into. A world where I could imagine I’d have the capacity to stage and hold some sort of global Olympic event for the transes. March 11th 2019 Amy Dyess features me in an article on medium. (Of note here that Amy Dyess is also ex-GC.) This is huge for me, dear reader. I find that notion strangely laughable now, but when I was featured in a medium article by someone fairly big in GC circles, I was thrilled- again rush of dopamine.
I was so impressed by this that I shared it via my University’s Facebook Group Page. It was largely, albeit ignored to be fair- but I was angling for some sort of fight, I think. None was had. Most were like- oh right, don’t really agree with you here mate. Have fun with that. *shrugs* and *walks off*
Benjamin Boyce had, at the time I was connected to Kinesis, already had Kinesis as a guest on his YouTube channel. Boyce messages me- hey do you want to be a guest on my show? Sure, why not? I go on his show. I explain my viewpoints and I also explained some of the twitter madness in that Boyce interview. The twitter madness was all good up to that point for the record. My appearance on Benjamin Boyce was released in March 2019, about a week after the Amy Dyess article, albeit we filmed about a week in advance of release. That second week of March was really busy for me. Here is the context- March 2019 was 4 months after my Mum got her cancer diagnosis, and 10 months after my uncle broke his neck. My uncle is, at this stage, trying bit by bit to get his life back in order (is as much as I am willing to say on a public platform). Meanwhile, my video interview of me with Benjamin Boyce is released, but externally the world around me is crumbling. I was on a crusade to sort out definitively once and for all the issues between gender critical feminists and trans-activists when it came to sex and gender. It was something I could control because I couldn’t control much else.
After seeing me on Benjamin Boyce’s show fellow trans man Mars, who has a bit of GC following but isn’t GC himself, invites me on to his show. I’m in this early stage of my online life presented on this issue as somewhat of a “centrist” which, to be blunt, I probably still am. At the same time, I’m attempting to come off hormones- and I’m in that stage of having attempted to do so for a period of two months. Bear in mind that with Mars podcast, it was filmed about a couple of weeks in advance.
The day that I aired that podcast with Mars, I also filmed the video of myself talking about my coming off hormones only to go back on them.
That is the time frame of all of this to put it into perspective. You could not pay me any amount of money to live through that week again. It was roller-coaster. My uncle was in a spinal unit undergoing physiotherapy. I visited my aunt in her house which felt strangely empty without the lovably obnoxious uncle I knew being in it. My Mum knew for sure she had cancer but didn’t want to tell anyone else in the family because of the gravity of everything else that was going on. I was overwhelmed. I could not possibly solve all of my family’s problems but I felt like I had to. I escaped into an online world instead. I try to deal with issues in a very self-contained way. I don’t talk to people about the things that I am going through much. If I tell you something personal about myself it’s usually because I’m crumbling. My close friends know this. My wider circle doesn’t. GC twitter didn’t. I can sit and maybe be annoyed about how actually there a multitude of posts on twitter where it is obvious I am not okay, and wonder why no one intervened but the sad fact is that what I have learnt from all of this debacle that has been intensely useful is that we don’t stop to think about the mental state of other people on the internet, and that for as much as we think these online interactions are the same as close personal connection, the fact is that they aren’t. They are fleeting. They may feel good but you can just as suddenly lose them by expressing an opinion that is out of line with their prescribed ideology. The vast majority of it is not especially genuine to be frank. I was very genuine and so sincere. I think I engaged in a process something like solipsism. Bluntly stated I assumed that since I had these warm feelings of high regard for people on the internet that they felt the same way about me. There are people in this movement who I have given money to when I knew they were in dire financial circumstances. I assumed that if the tables were reversed that they would do the same for me. I know now that this is probably not the case. For people to get the full picture, there are people who I have money too whilst engaged in this GC world. This happened with more than one person by the way and both individuals shall remain anonymous. I’m not the kind of person who drags people through the mud. They are both here but their names are redacted.
I assumed that if I extended them the kind of respect and dignity I have been raised to extend to others, that the same would be extended to me. I was naïve. Some people definitely took advantage of that. The anon in this case did not. Taking advantage of my nature was par for the course for many in this movement. It started out slowly. I started receiving a lot of unsolicited advice. There were a multitude of these kinds of messages but here is just one of these, albeit probably the most egregious example out of the whole damn lot.
A few things of note here, again notice the time stamp. March 13th. On reflection I suppose that week in March was really a mixture of good and bad regarding my online life. This was not the only message I got off twitter of that kind. It was one of multiple all from around the same time period. I had already attempted by this point medical detransition and notice I had told GC feminists to stop talking to me about detransition. When you say something like- hey do not talk to me about this, that is called a boundary. When people repeatedly cross over a boundary these days I tend to leave them high and dry these days because of my experiences in this movement. The second thing to note here is probably the reference to my sex life. That’s not something I especially view as appropriate to discuss with someone I don’t even know but have seen them post online. Again- BOUNDARIES. If you’ve read any ex-GC blogs so far, if the only thing you take away from them is that GC twitter doesn’t at all respect boundaries, then if that is your major take-away, good. My job is done.
A lot of assumptions were made there. I was not virginal at this point. Far from it. I had my first sexual relationship with a girl as a teenager. See how that goes? How I am then pushed into discussing my sex-life where I otherwise, to be honest, wouldn’t do so on a public platform? Not because I don’t have one, but because it is no one’s business. Watch out for that dynamic if you ever go onto GC twitter. They accuse you of something regarding your personal life, and they expect you to respond to it. There is no part of your life that is out of bounds for them to discuss. Again, they do not understand boundaries.
I carried on with this dysfunctional dynamic- my twitter following was at 1100, then 1200, then 1300, then 1400, then 1500, then 1600, then 1700, then 1800 at its height. I viewed these numbers as an achievement. That was stupid. They were not achievements. But that hit of dopamine to my brain was like a drug. I wanted more it. I wanted more followers. I wanted an account with over 5000 followers if I could manage it- who knew how far this could go? What if one day my account had a K number after the followers- ie. 18.7K follower. My God. This is so vapid and stupid to me now but it was so important back then. I was expecting more people to invite me onto other podcasts. I was desperate to be on the podcasts of twitter famous people. It’s interesting looking at it, how much this entire thing captivated me. At the same time, it was not all good. Having expressed a desire for everyone to stop asking me about detransition- many people continued to do exactly that. Some would say it outright publicly in response to my tweets and some would say it privately. I already felt bad for transitioning. They’d already got me to that point. At this stage I was ashamed at how my transition was taking one more butch lesbian from the world (again I was ignoring my bisexual tendencies entirely because I felt awful about them). I was upholding all these gender norms with my transition. I had almost certainly internalised misogyny for what I was doing. In other words, I spent a lot of time doing this:
Honestly? I hadn’t really done that before all this. I know it sounds strange because you’d think I would but actually just felt like I should have been a man. I never questioned whether or not I “felt” like a man. It’s a very weird way of putting it to me to be honest. In the context of my own dysphoria, I do very much relate to the trapped-in-the-wrong-body narrative. Here is that background for you:
From the ages of- since I can remember until I was about 8/9, I thought I would literally grow up to be a man. As in, I thought that when I became “one of those teenagery things” that I would at that stage grow male sexual characteristics. It began to dawn on me as my thinking capabilities grew that this probably wouldn’t happen but to be honest with you when the very early stages of puberty hit, I think a part of me was still wondering if that would happen. It didn’t obviously. Then puberty did hit and it was very painful for me. This is the part of the narrative, I suppose that fits that Blanchardian HSTS archetype, however as already stated I have bisexual tendencies. On the whole more attracted to women, but I do experience attracted to men. It is what it is.
Now, even with that experience- I still do not understand what on flying earth and in heaven it means to “feel” like a man. I’m not sure I have ever met anyone who does. Define feel. Define man. Define I. Oh God this is heading into unbearably philosophical realms. Let’s leave that there shall we.
This is what I was trying to unravel in my mind. God alone only knows why. When I look back on it now, and my current take is- literally none of this matters because there is nothing wrong with transition. If you’re questioning things because you want to question them, good for you. I had a friend once, who when we were discussing this said to me- Oh God I once started questioning my gender and I just had to stop. It was never-ending. This friend is cisgender/non-trans, use whatever terminology you see fit. I thought- yeah, Jesus H Christ, I know the feeling. But the point is that all of this navel-gazing on my part was only really necessary if I accepted the condition that there was something lesser about transition. I don’t believe that anymore. It is one of a number of ways to interact with yourself and the world.
The pressure from GCs to detransition continued for a period of months. Some of these people were people who I held in high regard. I became a lot more insistent as time went on. I kept looking for solutions whereby trans people could exist and not be forced into the spaces of our biological sex (which is unworkable, the last time I used a public female bathroom, I got thrown out of it), but also we could maintain single-sex spaces for women. Again, this is idiotic to me now. Under the Equality Act 2010 there are already exemptions regarding transgender people for the purpose of single sex spaces.
I saw the side of GC twitter that was actually a lot nastier than I had anticipated. I watch as the account of a transwoman I was friendly with (@wantsblue) was dogpiled by GC twitter who all called her vagina a puss and blood infected wound. This got spectacularly foul. The language surrounding mutilation was severe.
I was already on testosterone at this point, and it made me sincerely wonder- is my body mutilated already or damaged by hormones. I wonder now how detransitioners feel about this kind of language to be perfectly honest with you. I do think, however, that realistically I shouldn’t need to utilise detransitioners in this way to make this point. In other words, realistically anyone with any level of compassion and empathy should be able to realise that perhaps the language of mutilation and the utilisation of post-op surgery photos (often without the consent of people involved) is beyond obscene. They should care about this from the viewpoint of being human beings. When trans people attempt to discuss this, often what comes next is “I’M FIGHTING A WAR ON WOMEN AND GIRLS, I DON’T CARE ABOUT MEN’S FEELINGS”. To which Cathy Brennan who, as you can see above, I had some interaction with on twitter- and I will never forget this for as long as I shall live- once replied: If you care about women and girls, consider that trans men are female.
That is probably the beginning of the unravelling for me. I thought- huh, actually I’m a transman and female. I’m kind of- well back to the point where I started at this stage. From there on I think, actually, this movement claims to be fighting for the rights of women and girls, I know most of the time I’d rather not view myself this way but what if I interacted with this movement as though I am female. You can’t change your sex, right? I mean I’ve just made modifications to my body. So I’m a modified female. Again- this was not an end, it was not the beginning of the end, but it was the end of the beginning.
I started then to talk about XGCs. Extreme gender criticals. I implored people please do something about the extreme element in your midst. Seems reasonable right? So I got some interaction with this but most of it was talk. Some of it was positive- yeah I’ve seen this too. It’s awful, and it needs to stop. I once tweeted that I think it would help if GCs stopped using the language of mutilation. This was an absolutely unacceptable demand to make. That was how people responded to me, as though it was a demand. I hadn’t demanded. I’d asked. I also shouldn’t have to ask people to stop referring to my body as mutilated. It’s common fucking sense to most people but these are the weird things you have to put up with when you dive headfirst into a creepy cult.
During this time, I’d often take extended periods away from twitter. I’d get burnt out. I’d had long back and forths with an account called Lesbivisibility. That did not end well. It ended with her telling me that she was terrified for me because I was about to mutilate myself and had a mental illness, and comparing me to transracialists. I blocked her in the end. At the beginning of our interactions this started out with a kind of mutual understanding that transition was the only option for some people, but ill-advised. Be wary of that. That is how it started out with most of GC twitter. In the end I think, when I didn’t detransition they were annoyed. I was public about having attempted to medically detransition and it not having worked, but for many I think they were expecting that in the long haul I probably would detransition. I can’t mind read obviously but I am basing this off the interactions that I have had with the multitudinous number of GC accounts. As the months wore on my inability to transition became an issue for many of them. Again, it was at this stage that I pointed out that- heh, actually I am female and so actually if you’re fighting for the rights of other females you’ll have to fight for my rights too.
That was far too logical, and sensible. I had multiple outbursts of saying something along the lines of “you need to do something about this ex-GC contigent”. In the end, I got back- yeah, maybe we have an issue but we are NOT as bad as TRAs. I would reply, but if you want to get trans people on board with your movement and see that what you are saying isn’t transphobic, how do you expect to do that without dealing with your extremist element? WHY DO I CARE ABOUT MEN’S FEELINGS, I’M FIGHTING A WAR AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS. Again though, I am trans and also female. So you’re talking about me too. *crickets* Truthfully, there is no space for trans men in the gender critical radical feminist movement and there never will be. Not amongst the anti-transition contingent. They are expecting you to detransition and if you don’t, you fall out of favour very quickly. They cannot handle the idea of trans men existing. It’s patently obvious. Many of us pass as men. There is a *huge* amount of anxiety surrounding when we pass as men. It’s palpable. What spaces are we meant to go into? Do you want trans men in female spaces? Okkaaayyyy… but say I’ve been transitioned for ten years and look like Aydian Dowling? Do you want Aydian Dowling in women’s spaces? If so, what is to stop literally any man from going into a woman’s space and saying “I have a vagina, I’m a trans man”. They do not wish to have this conversation. In fact, I was pushed into a position of not asking those sorts of questions. What I repeatedly saw was them saying “oh God, yeah I hate how they never discuss trans men and when they do it’s to use them as shield. It’s like women are only useful to them to use as a shield.” (IRONIC MUCH) There are, I think, genuine issues in certain trans spaces regarding trans men. In feminist spaces, there is a tendency to view men in general as having certain amounts of privilege. In trans-positive feminist spaces, I have found a tendency to view that because trans men are men, and men have privilege, I shall treat you like a man with privilege- regardless of whether or not that is actually the case. Trans men are primed to hear arguments like these about how our voices are made invisible or we are only ever used as tools in a political battle and whatever comes next trans men are primed to agree with it. I know a considerable number of trans men who go the whole hog and just go full-on “FEMINISTS HATE MENZ, GAAARRRGGHH” and I understand entirely why. It’s a disorienting experience to be pre-T, binding, not passing especially well, being treated in a fairly shitty way in the world, to enter feminist spaces and to expect to be seen and heard and to then be told to- sit down, shut up and listen to women. Your experience as a trans man is ignored because trans men are men appears to mean that there are no differences at all between the experiences of trans men and men. Whatsoever. I think this primes some trans men to being able to accept both MRA ideology and ironically, radical feminist ideology. It’s not that there aren’t any GC trans men. There are plenty of them. I wasn’t the only GC trans man in the village who then left. They were smaller accounts, hundreds of followers, and not much listened to or taken seriously.
Which is a roundabout way of saying- that from an ideological standpoint I never felt able to raise my own concerns as though they were my own. In RF/GC circles these sorts of arguments were seen as the weapons wielded by trans women as a “ha, gotcha” and I was tired of being either invisible or a tool. However, these arguments actually *were* my own concerns. There’s a long back and forth between Rani Baker and an ex-gencrit Aoife. Aoife makes the point that she is “male in the tweets, female in the streets”. For further reading, this can be found here:
That is what the disconnect was for me. Online I was interacting in such a way that I was so insistent upon my biological reality. In the real world, I was passing. When I’d stopped messing around with my hormones and realised that when on them, I wasn’t nearly quite so depressed. I passed fairly well. I actually had the fortune of being able to pass really well even before starting hormones. Here’s me at 20 without any hormones.
One of the lucky ones, I guess. With hormones, and without messing around with them- it was a doddle. At university I had groups of friends that were all-male groups. Some knew I was trans, some didn’t. Absolutely every single last one of them just treated me like one of the guys (and still do). How I got there is irrelevant to them so long as I can banter and take a joke. I think, to be honest, that is most normal people. At my part-time job I would only ever get referred to using male gendered language. Where I might have been passing some of the time before, really I was now passing nearly all of the time. The only people that clocked me were fellow transes (who I’d clocked too because trandar) and the occasional lesbian or gay man. The dissonance of the “female in tweets, male in the streets” dynamic becomes jarring in the long run. It is another part of the pathway out of the GC movement.
In the end, after so many online interactions- I started to realise how much this interplay wasn’t worth it. There are two things that stick out like a sore thumb for me during this neither of which make me look like an especially spectacular adult human being. There was the moment when I started arguing with my Mum about why she couldn’t have just let me be butch and gender-nonconforming which turned into a bit of a shouting match. This movement made me angry at my mother at a time when I should have been there for her. I was there for her, because my personal principles mean putting aside emotional hang-ups when someone else is in need. However, there were cracks in the wall with this approach. My Mum, who is at this point in between stages of chemotherapy asks me if I’m okay and this results in a shouting match in which I blame her for my being trans. If you could have just let me be butch or gender-nonconforming then maybe I would have grown up to be just a masculine woman. This doesn’t look good. Writing this is making me nauseous. This is what extreme ideology does to your brain. Take note. My Mum rebutted of course that this wasn’t actually true- she did let me wear what I want, it was just special occasions where she expected a kind of feminine flourish (she didn’t put it that way but I am). Arguing with my Mum over stuff like this because my mental health is crumbling because my world is falling apart and because I don’t know how long I have left with her so I’m sat shouting at her. Make it make sense, it didn’t.
Another part which, again, doesn’t make me look good but which I’ll note here so you can see the depths that this nasty vile side of twitter takes you to. I am sat in the waiting room for the radiotherapy clinic. You can not go into a radiotherapy clinic with them so you are typically sat in the waiting room outside. Sat in this clinic and I am on twitter tweeting away with the gencrits. I could have been texting family. I could have called family. I stopped during this whole thing and thought- my Mum is currently undergoing radiotherapy and I am sat on twitter tweeting with the gencrits and worrying about gender. This. Is. Not. Healthy.
I started to have this thought on several occasions. MY MUM HAS CANCER AND ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT IS FUCKING GENDER. WHY? I think- to be honest, I had been in a state of shock regarding everything that had been going on in my life. I took to twitter and to this world to cope with it all. If you’ve ever been through something tragic then you’ll know that there is for a lot of people a stage of denial. Denial is really the right word to be honest. It’s shock. It hasn’t hit yet that this actually happened. It is starting to hit with me now for instance that we are currently in a global pandemic. Before this it has all seemed very surreal and like I am living my life as though I am in some sort of film. So it was with what I’d been through regarding my family circumstances. My life had this surreal kind of quality to it, it’s why I on multiple occasions made reference to EastEnders. It didn’t seem real. When it started to sink in that yes- here is my life at the moment, my uncle is slowly building himself back up and wondering how much movement he will regain of what he had, my Mum really does have cancer. It started to occur to me that it was entirely possible she might not be around whilst I’m in my 30s. She might not be at my wedding if I have one, she might not see any grandchildren I have. She might not get to see what it is I do finally accomplish in the long run. It all started to hit. At this stage I reviewed what it was I was spending my time doing. I told twitter- I’m taking an extended twitter break and I left for a period of months. I deleted the twitter app on my phone and started putting my life together in the places where it really mattered. I focused on university work. I focused on spending time with my Mum. I focused on spending time with my family in general.
When I came back to twitter- when things had settled. I declared that I was leaving the GC. I explained the reasons for this were the extremist element in its midst and the fact that moderate GCs were standing by and doing nothing about it. Jane Clare Jones responds and says, albeit sarcastically, that it is good to see that this is what I have progressed towards and throws some accusation or other at me. They. Will. Not. Let. You. Leave. Quietly. It doesn’t work. I must have “left” GC twitter about 5 times before it finally sunk in. I still had GC accounts expecting me to agree with them. I didn’t. I do not think we can revert back to a world where *all* spaces are segregated by sex. I don’t think there are enough trans people to put gender neutral toilets everywhere and I wouldn’t use them anyway for this simple reason, there have been multiple occasions where I have used the gender-neutral toilets on my university campus and have thus been clocked. You can kind of see, from their facial expressions, the way their thought process goes- Wait? Why is a guy using the gender-neutral toilets? What? Ohhhhhh… and then suddenly they can see every female feature I have, and then dependent on whether or not the person is a jackass or not they will either stare or they won’t. In any case, university campuses aside- there aren’t a lot of gender-neutral toilets. The last time I went into a female bathroom really was the last time. “Oh! You are wrong” said the German lady in the public toilets. I felt like saying “Lady, story of my life” but I didn’t. I washed my hands and left quietly and her daughter said “Mama” very disapprovingly which may have saved me the bother of an argument. So I when I came back to twitter declaring that I was ex-GC, and having got over the shock of my personal life crumbling around me- I really didn’t have any time for people pressuring me not to transition or people making anti-transition argument. I unfollowed a lot of accounts. Each declaration that I was ex-GC lost me a lot of followers. At first, this upset me. Over time- I realised that if I’m losing followers then good because I don’t want these people interacting with me anyway.
In between each declaration that I’m LEABING THIS GRONP I took extended breaks away from twitter. During those extended breaks away from twitter, I felt a hundred times better. During one of those extended twitter breaks, as referenced to above- I got a call saying they’d had a cancellation and that if I could come in next week they could do surgery then. I accepted. It was very short notice that required a very rapid turn around but it also had the benefit of being over the university summer holiday period- in other words I wouldn’t miss any university which was something that I had been concerned about. I accepted and got my ducks in a row with work so that I could go in. By that summer, I truly had peaked in terms of- regardless of all the rest of it, this is right for me. I stood in front of the mirror, grabbing them and squishing them down and knowing that soon it really would all be over. The most excruciating part of my dysphoria would be gone, a weight would be lifted off my chest. The thing is away from twitter I started to get clarity. I did miss twitter though. Not the account that I currently had, but the account that I used to have where I would interact with people and they would interact back and it was all very normal and I’d tweet about a whole range of things- from the weather, to the economy, to politics, and everything else in between. I truly do hate these culture war battles. I would much rather talk about taxes to be perfectly blunt. I only involved myself in them because these culture war battles directly involve me in many ways. So, I’d go back onto twitter and attempt to use in the way I had before. Every time I came back onto twitter resulted in me having to remind the GC that I had left. Here is one of the times that I left:
In response to this, GC twitter reminds me that they haven’t seen anyone say they don’t believe in gender dysphoria. Incidentally, I have seen that but it was the insistence upon- no, our movement is good actually underneath a post like the above one that I found- shocking. They will not let you just scorch the earth with them until you have literally burnt down the entire village.
This particular discussion leads to a very long back and forth. I’ve literally just said I’m not engaging in this discussion anymore. I’m not especially sure what was difficult to understand about that. Was I speaking Finnish? This rather nasty side of twitter didn’t understand boundaries at all. The conversation went on and on and ended with this diamond of a comment:
This interaction, on a thread in which I had literally just stated that I didn’t want to hear anything about this subject any longer and this long horrid tweet thread at the end of which someone calls me mutilated again about took the biscuit. “Cis” is a slur, but if I say, hey stop calling us mutilated then I’m curtailing your freedom of speech. Make it make sense. It does not. That led me to think- okay you know what I’m going to tell twitter that I’ve had surgery. They hadn’t known at that point because I’d seen how cruel, nasty and foul they’d been in regards to other trans people’s surgery. The only people who post photos of themselves in surgery to the GC crowd these days and people who like to wallow in victimhood- ie. Look at this awful thing I am doing to myself. Knowing that they will get a large amount of interaction from twitter during this exchange. I’ve no time for anyone doing that. I didn’t post any photos actually because I didn’t want to see any nasty remarks regarding my own body. I just stated that I’d had surgery expecting to haemorrhage followers because at this point it is fairly obvious that everyone in GC-land is still, despite well over a year of interaction suggesting otherwise, expecting me to “come home” and detransition. I post this:
I knew I would lose followers that day but I didn’t realise how many. Just as I’d gained 50-100 followers in day with some of my tweets before. This time around the twitter cycle, I lose 103 followers all in one day.
I felt a mixture of things. I did feel somewhat good, but I also went into a kind of self-pity about it too. It was grief. I thought there was movement to get behind not conflating sex and gender but also having zero issue with trans people. I was wrong. I was very wrong. The lost followers made me realise how wrong I was. A good portion of them were all sat waiting for me to detransition. As time went on and it became clear I had zero intention of doing so I lost any potential value I had to them. Gone were the pleasant love-bombing type interactions of days gone past. I was an apostate now, but why was I an apostate? My politics on the matter hadn’t even really changed. I mull this over for some time realising that actually in the end a good portion of the people in this world were entirely too cynical for my liking. They cared about image most. They cared about what people could provide the movement with. Also, fundamentally if saying “I’ve transitioned and I’m happy” as a trans man gets you booted out, then they have a serious issue with transition. It started to clicked they are anti-transition. A lot of this type of rhetoric even after the above continued to follow my account. It may have crossed the thoughts of some you, why didn’t you just block them all? I did in the end, because I was forced into a position of- actually fuck this I’m blocking you all now. Someone messaged me- mate GC people are on twitter still spouting stuff about the transes. So I went to check and indeed, on the day of the birth of the baby Jesus, GC twitter was indeed still tweeting. I can’t remember precisely when because I had to go looking for a TERF blocker list but it was some time around then that I deployed my TERF-blocker list. I’m done with you all, bye bye now.
One of the times I left twitter I was retweeted by an account called “Deviant Lesbian”. We had interacted before albeit briefly when we were both in the GC. I came to find that when I’d come back online, she’d left too. So we get talking. I add her to a couple of group chats I’m in. She starts to open up about the harassment she’s faced from Louise Moody. We talk privately. What then proceeded was the development of a friendship that really was instrumental in helping me put this all behind me. I keep tweeting about the GCs. Here was basically the crux of my issue with the GC movement and what I spent a large amount of time saying “you need to watch out for your extremists” both whilst in the GC and during the several times I went “right I’m done, bye now”. It was the extremism. When you criticise the GCs what happens is you get a hoard on hooting owls back at you. You say: The GCs have a serious issue with empathy. They say “who? Who? Hoo”. You provide example after example after example of this and every single example you provide is discounted. “Yeah, well that doesn’t mean that there is a major issue with x.” I swear before God you could present some people with a 50-page document of examples of the nasty behaviour of GC twitter and they would still turn around and say “yeah but that’s not everyone”. That’s not really the point to be perfectly blunt. The point is that if something is a problem you shouldn’t respond by going “well it’s not everyone”. Of course it’s not everyone because when you say something is everyone then you’re almost certainly going to be wrong because of the diversity of human beings. The point is that when this sort of behaviour happens- calling people mutilated, pressuring people to detransition even after they have asked not to discuss it with them- no one ever calls it out. The silence of people you consider to be friends hurts far more to be completely and utterly honest. It makes you wonder what it is that someone could say about you that they would turn around and stand up for you. I quickly realised with the complete glaring silence on these issues that none of these people were my friends. It was starting to make me feel nauseous. I was beginning to wonder where the line was. I got my answer fairly quickly. There was no line. Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull had referred to trans women as parasites and had called for the sterilisation of trans men.
Specifically, whilst researching this I actually found out that it was Shelia Jeffreys who called trans women parasitic and Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull only really supported her. I remember seeing Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull’s post on facebook about it but I unfortunately can not find any screenshot for the purpose of this blog and as you may now all know, Posie Parker has had her Facebook account removed (although has another one under her real name- Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull). Here is Shelia Jeffreys making that comment though (see below) and what I remember Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull saying in response was “any man who calls himself a woman or a transwoman is a parasite”.
Woman’s Place UK did denounce Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull. Why though? Nothing to do with her comments on trans women or her comments on trans men.
They object to her views on race and religion and make zero reference whatsoever to her comments on trans people. This gives the impression that they are totally fine with referring to trans women as parasites and calling for the forced sterilisation of trans men. It gives that impression because it is largely speak true for a lot of people on GC twitter that these sorts of statements don’t bother them whatsoever. *insert interaction with Shelly* We are reaching a level of language about these issues that is Hitlerian. It is eugenicist. At university as part of a module on international organisations I learnt about the UN’s response to the Rwandan Genocide and how in the aftermath of their poor response they developed something called “Responsibility to Protect” the basis of which is that the individual is sovereign and a nation states sovereignty ends when that nation state is engaged in human rights abuses against its citizen’s using a framework of International Law to make this argument. I also learnt about the stages of genocide. Dehumanisation is one of the stages. The reference to parasites is eerily reminiscent to the Rwandan Genocide debacle. So, I go to reading the stages of genocide again, scrolling through my university notes to do so.
This can be found here and is well worth the read: The 8 Stages of Genocide
My point is not persay that Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull is capable of engaging in a mass sterilisation, eugenicist, Hitlerian campaign. My point is also not that this dehumanisation process has overtook wider society to a point where I am seriously concerned for my safety. My point is that if Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull was Prime Minister I’d apply for refugee status in another country fairly pronto. When you see this kind of language used, RUN. Denounce ASAP. Woman’s Place UK did not do that. Let’s be clear, see above- Woman’s Place UK denounced Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull on the basis of race/religion making zero reference whatsoever to Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minsull’s comments on trans people. This a large part of the reason that I no longer make a clear distinction between “moderate” GCs and extreme GCs. In all honesty, I should not have had to argue on this point regarding Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minsull for any length of time. It should have been incredibly obvious from the outset. The only reason I can see that it isn’t obvious to people to denounce parasitic language is that it actually doesn’t bother them that much, but it should. I’m now of the opinion that Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull often just says what many in this movement privately think because otherwise I think a person’s natural disgust reflex would make them want to distance themselves very far away from her. In any case, I can’t know that for sure, however, I can say the lack of response to this made my skin crawl. What also made my skin crawl was the strange similarity between say feeling obliged to state what you think under a pseudonym in order to hide yourself? See also Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. Apt analogy, I think. I was sat reading Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech for a university assignment and I came upon this part of it which reminded me so much of the rhetoric in the extremist side of the GC movement that it puts shivers up my spine. (Julia Long’s recent article on Uncommon Ground is also strikingly similar for the record- Julia Long – Meaningful Transition).
Enoch Powell’s speech can be found here too. Stumbling upon it coincidentally for a university assignment as I said lot of alarm bells went off for me. Literal shivers up my spine, in fact.
Any time I tried to raise these issues particularly surrounding Posie Parker/Kellie Jay-Keen Minshull, I was met with a lot of whataboutery and a lot of “well, we don’t agree with everything she says but” arguments. Here is one of those times:
I announced that I was leaving over and over and over again. One of these times, Graham Linehan himself, coordinated a dog-pile onto my account.
It lasted days. They hated me at this point. Helen Stanliland retweets me. I am dirt to these people now. It was the only way for any of them to get the point. They don’t let you leave silently. They assume you agree with them on certain points and then try to wind you back in. The only way to leave is to go out with a bang. By the time I went out with a bang I was more than ready to do so. It had become obvious by that point that I had been dragged into a hate movement and I was beyond fed up of the level of corruption in this movement. Watching people that I cared about being dragged through the mud all for- again, what? I still do not know what most of these people are mad about. The Equality Act 2010 already allows for exceptions so that sex-based spaces can exist. This isn’t about self-ID. It isn’t about protecting sex-based spaces. For many people it is about making all spaces sex-based, forcing trans women into male spaces and trans men into… *shush* let’s not talk about that.
As of writing this Holly Lawford-Smith has put out a very shoddy explanation for why trans men are men actually but trans women are not women. Consequently, I’ve had to update this part of my post. That article can be seen here. My main issue here is that Holly Lawford-Smith seems to assume that I feel like a man when I do not. Again, I don’t understand frankly what it meant by these terms “feel like a man” or “feel like a woman” and interestingly amongst trans people I very rarely see such phrases thrown about. That seems to be more the milieu of the gender critical world. Amongst transgender people ourselves, what I have seen is that we are developing much more sophisticated and less metaphorical language to describe our experiences with gender dysphoria, which is an infinitely invaluable thing.
My larger point though, was that pushing people back into the spaces of their biological sex is not a workable solution- whether they are trans men or trans women is frankly irrelevant. Most men would also not take kindly to seeing completely passing trans women wander into the gents, and in fact that would put trans women at a considerable amount of risk. The jump of logic to go to this position of pushing trans women back into male spaces seems to be that all trans women are sexual predators. That is the assumption you would have to make if you didn’t want any trans women in women’s spaces. This is fairly par for the course radical feminist rhetoric. It isn’t just trans women. Men, as they see it, in general are sexual predators. Normal people do not think this way about the world. Trans people are too small a group to have our own spaces everywhere we go. The transsexuals in their movement also do not interact with the world in this way. They do not go through life using the spaces of their biological sex. Many of them, if they tried to would have difficulty. So why go to bat for the team that seems to want a full reversal? Stand up for yourself. Speak out. I was beginning to get frustrated.
In fact, here are multiple examples of GC trans women having precisely this issue. In a post which is password protected by Claire Graham as of now and so cannot be seen by the general public.
A portion of which I do have a screenshot of here though:
Then there is also the case of Debbie Hayton herself as seen here:
In any case, I keep leaving and leaving and leaving and no one quits get the point. I go onto Mars’ podcast again to discuss my issues with the GC. In it, a woman calls Diane drags up some nasty malicious untrue claims about a friend of mine. A tactic that was to become the weaponry of choice for many in the GC. Make outrageous outlandish claims without evidence against people who know it not to be true. Watch as the people who are actually engaged in relationships with these people stand up and say- what on earth are you talking about? Which I did. I could relate the details of this particular drama here but I won’t. I respect the privacy of those involved far too much. All I will say is that it is stunningly similar to the most recent drama. It just happened to someone with a smaller account so didn’t punch as much weight.
Diane also claimed I lied about being friends with Seven. This was very sloppy language on my part. Friends was definitely too strong a word to use as we had only ever really interacted online. Here is what I meant with my casual use of the word friend.
To this day, I still have gender critical feminists accounts following me some of whom I think are still expecting me to “come home”. I shall not be coming “home” ever. I have accepted myself. I am accepting myself. It is not so bad this side of things. Being trans and having transitioned has made my life about a thousand times more interesting than it otherwise would have been. I don’t hate being trans. I love being trans these days actually. I’m also about ten thousand times happier away from everything that I went through whilst in this movement. No, I will not sit around and tweet about how you have an anti-transition contingent that you need to sort out. What I realised fairly quickly was the silence and complicity of the moderate types actually bothered me more than the extremist idiots ever could. There are extremist idiots everywhere in all walks of life. We do stand by and watch these elements get worse and worse because they speak in a populist voice and captivate a large audience. This should be blindingly obvious and the fact that it wasn’t obvious to a lot of so-called “moderate” types concerns me.
When it comes to issues regarding self-ID and single-sex spaces, there are plenty of people who already make these arguments anyway without feeling pulled to join a weird creepy cult to do it. The Equality Act 2010 already gives exemptions for where single-sex spaces can exist. The issue with this movement truly is that it doesn’t want trans women in any female spaces which as I have said, is a completely unworkable solution. I have yet to receive a serious answer from any gender critical person about which bathroom they expect me to use (again, I wrote this bit before Holly Lawford-Smith released that article on medium). I think the absolutism with biological sex even in social contexts, and the incongruity of being called a man and treated like a gender traitor during those instances where you disagree with them though is why- in the long run, there aren’t that many GC trans men. If you are fighting for women and girls- and women just means adult human female, then I’ve never felt uncomfortable referring to myself as female, you should be fighting for me too. I think for a lot of them they never will. They’ll sit around and expect trans men they come into contact with to detransition and hound them about it even after knowing they’ve already made attempts at this and it has spectacularly failed and made them clinically depressed. Many of the trans people who were with me in TransRational have now left. Kinesis, Nell/Drawn Out Of Shape, and myself have all left. To the trans people still in this movement. You are a prop in the movement. You are not a full human being. There is no reasonable discussion to be had. I have well and truly peaked out of everything gender critical.
Ps. A special thank you needs to be made to certain people during this entire thing. Ramendik, Cursed E, Katy Montgomerie, Mallory Moore, Nell/@drawnoutofshape, Cynical Taff Bastard, Wendy, Ale, Deviant Lesbian, Rosa Freedman.
Ramendik – for constantly challenging my views during this time without being aggressive about it. You once asked me that if the end goal was freedom of expression regarding gender, which movement I thought was actually going to achieve that. This stuck in my head and in particular the distaste for many types of gender non-conformity from some quarters of the GC movement became increasingly hard to swallow and that one question of- “which group do you think will achieve this?” was one that stuck in my mind from the moment you’d asked it. This was part of my window out so thank you.
Cursed E – for being aggressive. I often felt as though I couldn’t speak up for myself as a trans person when in this movement. I felt as though I was walking on eggshells, often times I would say things I thought were fairly reasonable and be labelled misogynistic, homophobic, and have all sorts of accusations thrown my way. I would have my words twisted. I would have my character attacked. I was tired of being ashamed of being trans knowing, especially post-op, how much transition has improved my quality of life. Gemma, seeing you be absolutely no nonsense about much of the stupidity made me realise that it was okay to stand up for myself as a trans person and that when those accusations come your way the proper response is ridicule. Thank you for that.
Katy Montgomerie – for the private chats we had when I was questioning everything. We clashed sometimes and I think we probably to this day still wouldn’t entirely agree all the time but I think you instead chose to put that aside to see me as a person escaping a very toxic cult-like environment. Your suggestion that this online GC movement was a lot like a cult was confirmation of a question I had been asking myself privately for a very long time. The links that you shared to information of people who have left cults was very eye opening for me and turned me onto one of my favourite YouTube channels- The Sensibly Speaking Podcast with Chris Shelton. Thank you for being patient and for putting my well-being above our differences of opinion.
Mallory Moore – for being somewhat in the middle ground but also still assertive in standing up for yourself and other trans people. Some of the critiques regarding the blithe use of the word “TERF” towards anyone with a somewhat differing view hold true. It’s toxic. It’s the same way in reverse for the term “TRA”. Often anyone who doesn’t agree with the RF/GC world is labelled a “TRA”. I know many people who have been labelled both by different people. Being able to discuss these matters from a place of wanting to understand some concerns that people have regarding self-ID and single-sex spaces regarding domestic violence shelters but who will also stand their ground against regressive rhetoric has been intensely useful to me. The kind of patience and understanding it takes to put aside your own concerns whilst also standing your ground is astounding. It also helped me see the world as the shades of grey it is and to become less focused on such moralistic black and white arguments. This was part of my way out too so thank you.
Nell/Drawn Out Of Shape – I cannot quite describe how helpful it has been to me that I didn’t just leave on my own. I think this would have been unbearably difficult if TransRational were still around and I’d had to leave on my own. I’m not sure I would have left. I think I’d be trapped in this stupidity even now if it weren’t for the many others who turned around and also said no. You also listened and replied to everything I ever sent your way. There have been times when I felt like I was going crazy. I spent a large amount of time when I was away from GC twitter trying to put my own beliefs back together again, bit by bit. Being able to bounce things off someone who has also been through this movement and understands what it is like to be trans was incredibly useful. I doubted often my own narrative about being able to label this a cult, and to call it manipulative. I often messaged you in those very lonely moments and I always got a response. The strength of many of us leaving, of our own accord, but at around the same time, individual of each other- is the kind of strength I needed. Thank you.
Cynical Taff Bastard- you know who you are but have asked to remain anonymous. You never picked a side. You always stayed true to yourself. You always walked a funny line between disagreeing with idiocy wherever you saw it, saying your piece and not getting dragged into emotional/personal battles. As I was leaving the GC, I quickly realised actually that I could do the exact same but having the example of it already was intensely useful. Do not ever doubt how useful that was. Thank you.
Wendy- for being a butch lesbian who had zero issue with me being a trans man and who has always been supportive and always been so kind. I’m not sure you’ll have realised how useful that actually was. Having support from a butch lesbian such as yourself has helped me process the shame I felt when I believed this narrative that I’d abandoned butch lesbians or somehow hated myself for being one and that’s why I transitioned. I was terribly gaslit with that message repeatedly whilst in the GC and undoing it took a lot of work. That was work that was made much easier by having you around. Thank you.
Ale- thank you for being a femme lesbian who has no issue with trans men. Mostly though, I’d like to thank you for your humour and light-heartedness. There have been many times when I’ve been on twitter and I’ve got myself into a serious depressed state during which your humorous responses have taken me out of that state. It was also useful to see someone who wasn’t trans, was also ex-GC, hate the movement as much as I did for a multitude of their own reasons. It helped me see that it wasn’t just personal emotional hang-ups regarding the transes. This movement is nasty to a lot of people regardless of whether or not they happen to be trans.
Deviant Lesbian- Christ Deviant, this is a tough one. I don’t know where to start. I’ve left two of the most difficult thank-you’s until the end. I have no idea where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for you. I need to repeat what I said to Ale too- seeing someone who hated the GCs as much as I did but for very different reasons was incredibly useful to me. It helped me realise that it’s not just me and my weird emotional hang-ups because I’m trans. There are a multitude of women who hate this movement. Watching women walk away from a “community” that claimed to be speaking on behalf of them was priceless. The hour-long phone conversations when I was actually seriously quite depressed during this whole debacle- I’m not sure I’d be as well put together now without them. I tried taking all of these issues to my counsellor once, but it was so difficult to explain or describe the dynamics with in this movement or even how I got to be there in the first place. It left my counsellor very confused. Being able to hash everything out with someone who knew precisely what the movement was like was invaluable. It was emotional support that I needed at the time and which you freely gave me even though you were going through your own issues at the time. That deserves a thousand thank-you’s. Even whilst leaving I doubted my own intentions for leaving. I wondered if I really was just too angry. I wondered if maybe I was misogynistic. Being able to speak to a woman about the GC movement and how truly awful it is, and to be able to talk to someone about everything I emotionally and mentally was going through- that was utterly priceless. Your humour too. You took me out of some very dark mental spaces with your humorous anecdotes. My God your stories. Also, you don’t completely hate me for being a Tory all the time, even though I tease you about it because I’m One Of The Good Ones TM. I think it’s actually hilarious that I’m a token Tory rather than a token trans now. It makes me laugh I can’t lie. Thank you.
Rosa Freedman – Of all of the high-profile women in this movement, some of whom I DM’ed privately, some of whom just interacted with me on twitter, not one took a moment to take me aside and ask me how everything was in my personal life or how things were at home. Except, that is, for you. You were the only academic higher-profile famous figure in this movement to ever do that. You didn’t look down on me which it could have been very easy to do. You didn’t see your academic standing as making you somehow a superior being. I sensed from our very first phone conversation your kindness and that you were genuine. I was going through so much at that time. In my real-world life, there were so few people who I could actually talk to who understood. Fellow students when I discussed the situation with my mum and my uncle often proffered back vague looks and “I’m really sorry, that’s shit” but froze at being unsure of what to say next- entirely understandable but utterly useless to me at that time. Of my surrounding family members, they were all going through the same as I was. I often thought during that time, the last thing my family needs is for me to crumble. I took to twitter, I think, in some ways as a poor coping mechanism. When you phoned me and I told you what was going on in my life, it was the first time that someone asked me how I was, not how my Mum was- but actually how was I emotionally coping with everything. I also knew you weren’t just asking but you genuinely cared. You once said that if your son grew up to be the kind of man that I am then you would be proud, and were the first person I ever spoke to who recognised that during that time I really was just trying to be there for my mum. No one had put it like that and it helped me reframe how I thought about it. I wasn’t just trying to hold myself together for my family. I was supporting them too. I’ll never ever forget that. Thank you.