Open letter to the National Post: resistance to gender identity laws is about much more than political correctness

Recent articles (here and here) in the National Post have exposed a dispute surrounding gender identity taking place at U of T, one of many universities trying to navigate this polarizing issue. It’s critical that the public be informed that there’s more at stake than just transgender rights and freedom of expression.

Gender identity is indeed, as Jordan Peterson says, philosophically incoherent and scientifically unfounded. It’s also true that forcing others to participate in affirming one’s self-perception is a violation of individual autonomy. The more pressing concern, however, is not political correctness but rather that gender identity has created a dangerous landscape of competing rights that adversely impacts females. As such, dissension shouldn’t be monopolized by people who aren’t invested or interested in women’s rights.

According to NatPo writer Chris Selley, resistance to recognizing people’s chosen identity (the list is huge and continually expanding) comes down to a straightforward matter of being a jerk. But consider this: when gender identity replaces biological sex in law, distinct sex categories and therefore sex-based protections for females disappear because any male-bodied individual is considered a woman, or even female, strictly and solely on his verbal declaration. Many Canadians are supportive of transgender protections against discrimination in areas such as employment and housing (as am I) but aren’t aware of this implication. Toby’s Law, passed in Ontario, granted serial sex offender Christopher “Jessica” Hambrook entry into two women’s shelters on the basis of his transgender identity as a woman, where he assaulted at least four women. Despite the exploitation of these laws being well-documented, women and girls are left to question what rights they have (examples include the case of Student X in Minnesota and Colleen Francis in Washington), and we’re supposed to think this is a bad thing because some people don’t want to use preferred pronouns.

Imagine being a female forced to share public showers, change rooms, prisons, shelters, and other protected spaces with males because they claim to have an indescribable internal female feeling, that they can’t be questioned when they say they’re women because they identify with the stereotypes forced on females, or they don’t think they’re men because they don’t identify with masculine stereotypes. Imagine being told that you’re only a woman because you choose to identify as one, hence choosing to be a target of discrimination and violence, even though men who harm women and girls are unaware of and uninterested in how they see themselves and wish to be addressed. If you’re a sexual assault survivor, you’re expected to get over your trauma.

Postmodern queer theory and gender politics have arbitrarily decreed that a woman is anyone who identifies as a woman – end of discussion – and even thinking about asking a question is transphobic and bigoted. Now imagine that this circular logic forms the basis of gender identity laws in many countries, starting from the UN and trickling down, and you’ll be describing a reality few know exists. Women and girls are ordered to be silent, nurturing, and to surrender their boundaries. This is not acceptable. Not ever, not for any reason, even when it’s presented as a remedy for the problems faced by another group of people coping with their own unique challenges.

There are a number of common strawman arguments in circulation. I’ll address three to illustrate the lack of understanding around the issue:

  1. Opponents of gender identity laws are saying that transgender people are inherently predatory.
  2. Opponents think that women and girls will be safe if we don’t let transgender people use the facilities of their choice.
  3. Predators have always been able to get into female spaces, so what’s the difference?

The problem is that a law whose criterion for entry is self-declaration as opposed to biological sex effectively removes all barriers faced by predators who realize that all they have to do is say they identify as female/girl/woman. This loophole is publicized every time an incident is reported in the news. You’d have to be something of a recluse not to have heard about the controversy surrounding transgender bathroom laws.

Sex-segregated spaces were never understood as impenetrable bubbles that deliver absolute protection. They’ve always been intended to provide, as much as is practically possible, privacy and safety for females. It’s irrelevant whether particular individuals who don’t appear to be transgender can pose as transgender to make a political point; sincerity can’t be assessed if it’s unlawful to question one’s stated gender identity. In such a situation, literally any man can obtain unfettered access, whereas before he could be questioned and ejected if necessary. The fact that most perpetrators of male violence are known to their victims and there’s no way to guarantee safety in some circumstances are not valid reasons to expose women and girls to further risk. This should be obvious to anyone who values and respects females. Trying to convince them of what they should be comfortable with is a manifestation of rape culture. If you’re trying to negotiate someone’s boundaries, regardless of why they exist, you’ve already violated them.

There was no question about the need for sex segregation before gender identity was popularized. Until recently, no one was equating it with white supremacist laws in the American south. So why now? Sex segregation isn’t an expression of social hierarchy; it reflects a need and a right for females to participate fully in public life. Shaming people for not wanting to expose themselves or be exposed to the opposite sex against their will is an affront to human dignity, irrespective of whether some people think it’s bizarre or wrong, or feel comfortable doing so themselves.

There are many other ways in which gender identity negatively impacts women and girls. For the feminists critiquing this ideology, resistance isn’t a matter of poor judgement, character flaws or a desire to say offensive things without being accountable. These issues warrant rigorous analysis and discussion in the media and by the Canadian government as they consider the ramifications of Bill C-16.

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18 Comments

Filed under Canada, Feminism & Gender, Politics & Society

18 responses to “Open letter to the National Post: resistance to gender identity laws is about much more than political correctness

  1. donesoverydone

    Reblogged this on stop trans chauvinism.

  2. Reblogged this on Rod Fleming's WordPress World and commented:
    This is an excellent thought-provoking post.

  3. This is excellent. Did you get this through to the National Post?

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. I tweeted the writers and sent them an e-mail, and copied the editor as well. Initially I wanted to write a letter and submit it but I thought it was too long and I didn’t want any part taken out or altered. I felt I could control the message better from here.

  4. Well, I hope some people see it and take note. This issue is so scary and people in general are really asleep and/or misguided about it.

  5. A much over looked reason for some MTF lies in attention given to females by the press. A quick survey of online newspapers indicates to get publicity be female and overtly sexual. If you want to invisible be a man. Individual need and desire for notice or anonymity seems to be at the core of this trend. The narrative disguises this behind politicising and medicalising. Really it comes down to Jenner’s ‘notice me in midst of kardashian femme fatale circus on one hand and anxiety ridden teenage girls hiding out from the same pressures in Transtopia.

    • I’m guessing you mean that transwomen (males) get most of the attention compared to transmen. I just wanted to make the distinction that it’s males who want to be recognized as women/female who are most benefited by trans activism. Just another male-dominated movement. How progressive…

      • Absolutely, there seems to be an extrovert introvert aspect to it. The motivations are very different and I can’t help feeling females are being pushed toward it to legitimise those males who seem to most aggressively demand to be seen as women. I particularly resent being referred to as a cis women as if it is a downgrading. When they even try to take our identity and rebrand us to make the space for themselves more comfortable. Teen girls seem most supportive. Such an irony that the nurturing sense of females is used to exploit them in this way. The bathroom laws seem to be most about males claiming femaleness and demanding to avoid male spaces. fTM much less vocal on this.

        • Ok, but there’s no such thing as “nurturing sense of females”; it’s a sexist stereotype that naturalizes female subordination. Next to the threat and practice of physical violence, femininity is the psychological counterpart. From girlhood, we’re told that putting ourselves second is in our nature, which implies that men can’t be nurturing and therefore are spared that expectation. The function of gender is to lock females into roles of wife and motherhood, where women as a social class believe it’s their duty to serve and appease men. It’s these same stereotypes (femininity) on which male-to-trans base their claim that because they think they feel “feminine”, they must be women and/or female. We need to decouple personality from biological sex. Gender identity fuses them together, and that’s why it’s so damaging to women and girls.

  6. lovetruthcourage

    I would submit this letter-to-the-editor in its entirety. This message is too important to be restricted to whoever finds it here. You deserve a national audience!

  7. HL

    Prof. Peterson deserves some huge prize for having the guts to stand up against the trans agenda. Unfortunately. what he’ll likely receive is endless harassment, doxxing and possibly employment recriminations.

    Oh and the alleged social media “threats” against “trans” ppl supposedly inspired by his stance are most-likely false-flag.

    • Peterson is speaking out because he doesn’t want to be forced to use ridiculous personal pronouns and thinks it’s an unprecedented move to legislate thought and speech based on an ideology that doesn’t make any sense. What he’s not doing – and what is most needed – is identifying gender identity as an inherently misogynistic concept rooted in patriarchy which has quickly gained traction under cover of the LGB community and quietly sailed through the open doors of the gutted feminist and progressive movements.

      Despite being asked to do so, he has repeatedly refused to mention that replacing sex with gender identity in law has very serious implications for females. Sounds like another sexist egomaniac Assange type who, if he does get fired, will be welcomed into the arms of any number of organizations and hailed as a hero while women continue to be silenced and erased. Take Milo Yiannopoulos, for example: the more controversial he gets, the more money he makes. Women don’t get that kind of reward when we resist. Neither of these men have been branded TERFs (all the really base slurs are reserved for women of course – see terfisaslur.com). The only reason he’s become a spokesperson is because people listen to white gainfully employed upper class men.

      Of all the media articles that have come out on this topic so far, how many of them mention the issues feminists have raised? Anyone who ignores threats to the well-being of women and girls leaves me with little question about how much he values them. I get the impression that at the end of the day, he would be comfortable keeping women ‘in our place’ as much as the next chauvinist. Until his behaviour indicates otherwise, he’s not getting any praise from me.

  8. I just want to point out the negative effect of these new laws on women’s sports. Men now can claim spaces on women’s and girls’ teams and can win in competitions against women just by declaring themselves to be women. This is already happening (see the recent Tour of Tucson bicycle event). Men can also now compete as women in the Olympics. It is true that a certain testosterone level is needed before they can compete as women, but if actual natal women had these testosterone levels, they would be eliminated for doping.

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