Why is The Guardian apologising for being right?

The Guardian reported the very sad case of Nathan Upton, a 32 year old primary school teacher in Accrington, Lancashire, who came back to school after the Christmas holidays as Miss Meadows but was found dead at home on Tuesday 19th March. The police are not treating the death as suspicious.

Before I go on, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Mr Upton/Miss Meadow’s family and loved ones. Loss is awful, whatever the circumstances. My questions and the points I raise are not directed at you, nor are they meant to hurt you – that’s the last thing I want to do. I have the utmost respect for your grief. I understand it. What I don’t understand is the press, hence this post.

Miss Meadows was a transperson. A biological male who transitioned in an attempt to be socially accepted as a woman. I have no idea what hormone treatment had been taken or what surgery had been performed on a healthy male body but I’m guessing that, as far as outward impressions were concerned, skirts and heels, hair and make up and general stereotypical notions of ‘femininity’ were involved. Mr Upton may have had a gender reassignment certificate and may, indeed, have been issued with a revised birth certificate that stated he was now female.

Thing is though, he wasn’t, was he.

Miss Meadows was still male. Biological sex is immutable – gender isn’t. Hormone treatment doesn’t change biological sex. Cosmetic surgery doesn’t change biological sex. Calling yourself a woman doesn’t make a person female if their biology doesn’t agree. As a female born woman I have a very specific biology that determines my life passage. This is very different to the way male  born people experience their lives, whether or not they want other people to believe they’re women.

There is a massive difference between sex -which is biological and immutable (you *can’t* change it) – and gender which is a social construct, a kind of play-acting, if you like. We all do the gender play-acting thing from time to time – some more so than others, some more often than others – but we’re all aware of it, however subconsciously. But the fact remains, male chromosomes make male people and female chromosomes make female people. This cannot be changed by human law, a piece of paper or alteration of records by human hand.

And yet The Guardian have published an apology for  referring to Meadows as “a male primary school teacher who began the new term as a woman”. She was a female primary school teacher.”

Nathan/Lucy was male! Why are the Guardian apologising? This person may well have had a piece of paper that said they were “female” – but their biology said different.

For those of you who’re thinking of screaming “biological essentialism!” at me, don’t bother. Yes – when healthy male people eschew their biology, I think there’s a problem that needs to be talked about and I don’t think we need to be looking at their physiology….

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The London Radical Feminist Conference 2012

I’ve been a radical feminist for about thirty five years. Never, in all that time, have I ever knowingly been in the same room as *so many* women of a similar political persuasion. Women came from all around the globe to be part of this event – it was literally standing room only. I was only able to attend on Saturday but even so, I managed to speak with several women I’ve known for years (both online and in real life) and that gave me a lot of welcome personal reinforcement. It can be lonely being a radical feminist! But I wouldn’t have felt at all lonely at this year’s conference for Radical Feminists even without all the personal catch-ups.

Gail Dines is a lovely, warm woman who knows her stuff inside out. She spoke about the role of pornography and sexual violence in women’s lives. She told it like it is – difficult to hear, obviously (let alone see) – and she put the whole thing in its historical political context. She illustrated how the rise of neo-liberalism and post-modernism have totally sold the lives of women and children down the river in support of capitalism and male dominance. She spoke about how girls these days don’t like the idea of “feminism” because they believe that being a feminist means that, as a female, you just have to “have sex” with everyone who expresses an interest. That’s how the mega bucks porn culture has translated to *real* young women. Thanks, faux-feminists, for supporting the ideology of porn and fucking up (y)our daughters in the process. There is no such thing as nice porn*. If anyone reading this believes that the porn they enjoy is somehow ok because they  like it or think it’s somehow “feminist”, trust me, you’re betraying women and children everywhere. Don’t believe me? Go hear Gail Dines speak.

Obviously the highlight of the day was Sheila Jeffreys’ keynote speech. Just seeing her there filled me with joy bearing in mind the hate campaign that’s been waged against her,  personally, in an attempt to shut her up and shut down the entire conference. Sheila Jeffreys is an incredibly compassionate, humane, articulate, funny, witty, intelligent and engaging woman. Having said that, she doesn’t suffer fools or foolishness and she will not compromise the lives of women or girls. I understand why there was so much venom spouted at her from all directions – she’s an unashamedly women-centred feminist who articulates her arguments with evidence and passion in a woman hating world. Those spouting the venom about her speaking at this conference were the patriarchy supporting, anti-female sort… Shame on them.
But the love in the room for her was palpable. As was her love for us. I felt proud to see her smile in response to our applause. I love Sheila Jeffreys.

Contrary to their cries of “me! me! me!”, we didn’t focus much on the tran$* issue at all (sorry guys) although it was touched on – from a radical feminist perspective, obviously – i.e. how it affects women; lesbians, in particular. Radical feminists have enough work to do concerning the oppression of women under patriarchy to worry about the fantasy of gender role reversal held by those belonging to the oppressor’s class. We’ll just carry on critiquing your role in our own oppression, thanks. And if you don’t like that – well, tough shit. And, while I’m at it, compassionate as I am, I have to be true to myself. I’m no longer going to censor myself to comfort your delusions. If you’re male assigned at birth you are not female and therefore cannot be a woman.

Women/females as a class/nation are being continuously globally fucked/fucked over by men/males. Every which way you choose to look at it, who, precisely, ends up struggling under patriarchy? I just typed a whole long list of examples but, seriously, do I need to spell it out? Let me know if you’re not yet clear….

I was so heartened looking around the room today at those who identify as radical feminists. Yes, the old school were there; but there were so many young women too – young; as in their 20’s. Radical feminism has retained a role in contemporary criticism of the patriarchal oppression of women. Young women appear to be understanding that liberal feminism will not liberate them from patriarchal oppression. Radical feminism is the way forward for women.
Radical feminism isn’t a “wave”. Radical feminism is, and has always been, the future for women free from patriarchy.

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An open letter to Biting Beaver

Hey BB,

I hope you’re ok – safe and getting on with things.

I miss you. I miss your honesty; the way you told the tales of your life, your truths (hard as they were), the way you shed light on the darkness that is everyday misogyny. Your voice was strong and pure, your support for your sisters was unquestionable – and your common-sense support was invaluable. Where are you now?

I hate that your voice has been silenced by male internet terrorists who were scared by it’s honesty. The honesty that called them out and shamed them for their attitude to female born human people. Yes, us – the ‘other’. They hounded you and jeopardised the lives of your children and, as a mother, your first and only instinct was to protect your children from harm. Funny how those internet terrorists were unable recognise how you were protecting your children from people like *them* though…..

I still hear your voice BB – often. It grounds me, drives me, fortifies me. I wish I could still hear it now. I wish you well, my sister.

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Women: beware the transactivist/MRA alliance…..

First they came for the Radical Feminists, and I did not speak out – because I am not a Radical Feminist.

Then they came for the Anarchist/Socialist Feminists, and I did not speak out –
because I am not an Anarchist/Socialist Feminist.

Then they came for the Liberal Feminists  and I did not speak out because I *am* a Liberal Feminist.

Then they came for anyone assigned female at birth – and there was no one left to speak for me.

Take a look at this if any of you think these people are truly your allies:

We also gain from feminists being forced to go after each other publicly. Who cares if feminists at Democratic Underground don’t get that they are just as culpable as the Radfems? I don’t. I am happy to use their rhetoric against the slightly more extreme versions of typical feminists, and then to use it again on the “less” extreme when appropriate.

(With acknowledgement to Niemöller)

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Gender I-dentity

I-dentity (aka trans) politics is fundamentally LIBERTARIAN / INDIVIDUALIST. It is ahistorical and acontextual. It essentializes sex stereotypes by renaming them consensual “gender identities.” It invisibilizes power structures that give rise to female oppression. It is anti-feminist. Via UP Also posted by: … Continue reading

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