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….