Philosopher Kathleen Stock became known outside academic circles after being forced by threats and defamation by transactivists to resign from her professorship at the University of Sussex for expressing critical views on gender identity (see here).
While similar cases happen all over the world, including Italy and Europe (see here e here), in Anglo-Saxon countries the teachers organise themselves to fight against the censorship of gender critical feminism.
In the article we present Kathleen Stock uses one of the most powerful weapons against all authoritarianism: irony.
From her experience Kathleen Stock draws 5 tips on how to talk to 'troublemaker transactivists' we might find in our path. In a nutshell: like a mother struggling with a tantruming child or a rebellious teenager.
It will not have escaped the notice of those who carefully observe that something about modern transactivism seems to make certain adults, in other respects functional according to Gillick* expertise, tend to have childish behaviour. From recent intervention of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to clarify the legality of single-sex spaces under theEquality Act, until the government's announcement not to criminalise what is tendentiously called 'conversion therapy' for people with 'discordant' gender identities, it seems that Every time an obstacle is placed in the path of transactivists, general despair breaks out, with dramatic statements and breath held until nausea.
Given the extreme nature of activists' ambitions - essentially, refounding the English language so that no one can refer specifically to males and females in any context any more - one might assume that they would be a little more prepared for a possible tough challenge. But not so - each new challenge is perceived as an incomprehensible and devastating attack which, inevitably, causes a lot of melodrama.
What generates such infantile regression in the followers of the new 'gender religion'? In part, the answer seems to have to do with the example given by Stonewall. For years, the association has acted like a frenzied primary school teacher who suddenly becomes a scoundrel, inciting all kinds of misbehaviour in those within his sphere of influence. Through the use of an elaborate 'gratification' graphic - otherwise known as UK Workplace Equality Index - sowed a fgeneral misunderstanding within hundreds of institutions on the actual state of equality law. It scared people with gruesome stories of murders, suicide threats and hate crimes such as the "misgendering" (using pronouns of a gender other than 'preferred', Ed). No wonder the more susceptible are getting so worried.
The latest example of Stonewall's moral leadership was a couple of weeks ago, when it was revealed that the organisation's abstention from the LGBT rights conference Safe To Be Meplanned by the government, will cost taxpayers at least £650,000, and probably more. Having previously been paid to co-organise the conference, the declaration of withdrawal of Stonewall was peppered with the usual propaganda: broken hearts over the government's U-turn on conversion therapy, shattered trust, and so on. One would think that the government has just announced compulsory heterosexuality for all, and not simply a pause in legislation that threatens to criminalise talking therapies for people questioning their gender, including homosexual teenagers who risk embarking on a medicalised path they might later regret.
Many of those fighting the Stonewall agenda are mothers - or as the maternity hospital where I gave birth twice would say, 'pregnant people'. As many mothers know, it is important to have some strategy ready when things get tough. So - with solidarity for beleaguered adults everywhere who are dealing with the transactivist drama in their organisations, homes and groups of friends - here is five rules in supernanny style, from me.
1 - ENCOURAGE THEM TO USE THEIR OWN WORDS
As with children, in transactivism there is a lot of shouting and cackling and strutting, but not much thinking. The next time a transactivist intones a mantra or slogan approved by Stonewall, Kindly encourage him to use his words and explain what he says. For instance, you might ask: if every male who feels like a woman is a trans woman, and trans women are women, what then is a woman? Don't be put off by furious complaints that you would be bigots for asking such a question - this is just a diversion not to answer you.
Similarly, one could ask them: whether, as Stonewall tells us, "to be 'non-binary' is to exist outside the boundaries and expectations of society", what does this mean for the countless gay people who have spent their lives facing discrimination and sometimes violence because they do not correspond to heterosexual norms? How does having a particular haircut compare to this?
Or if, as the new Stonewall campaign in favour of 'asexuals', a 'grey-sexual' is someone who "may experience sexual attraction very rarely or only in specific circumstances", while "'demisexual' people only experience sexual attraction after developing a strong emotional bond with someone", then in effect, most of us are not 'grey-sexual' or 'demisexual'? And more precisely, why all this involves a lavishly paid political campaign by taxpayers?
2 - PRAISE THE GOOD
When educating offspring, it is important to positively reinforcing correct behaviour. This can be an effective strategy, in general, for people of difficult character. Transactivists often claim that they want to break down retrograde stereotypes of how males and females should behave and appear. If this is the case, tell them that this is a really great thing! Praise them highly for this - although you might also ask them how they plan to break down stereotypes, as they seem to believe that playing with dolls and wearing female clothes can turn a male child into a female.
3 - SETTING LIMITS
This seems to be particularly difficult for transactivists to accept, since they tend to think that all those who set limits or stakes are fascists. Start by casually saying things like 'apples cannot be oranges' and 'tables cannot be chairs'. (In case they get angry and start calling you 'fruit police' or 'furniture police', ignore them and proceed calmly.) Finally, work your way up to talking about males and females in non-human species on earth: 'deer are not hinds', 'bulls are not heifers', and so on.
Once this information is well tolerated, gently introduce the idea that humans are also a sexually dimorphic species; and that, as with other species, we need mutually exclusive names for the two human sexes in order to be able to speak clearly about them. And after this radical idea has taken root, perhaps you could start talking about other kinds of limits and stakes as well.
For example, one could talk about the physical boundaries of women's changing rooms and dormitoriesand what these boundaries should actually do to protect their occupants from male predation. Or one could talk about the personal boundaries of women who say they do not want men in the public spaces where they undress. At all times during this process, use examples. A firm and consistent 'no' could be useful.
4 - IGNORE DERAILMENT ATTEMPTS
Children like to copy what you just said and repeat it back to you ("no, YOU are!"). Sometimes they do it just to annoy you. Other times, it is because they want to argue an argument but don't know how, so they parrot a version of what you just said in the hope that it will work. Similarly, some transactivists like to take the themes launched by gender-critical feminists (gender critical) and relaunch them, only slightly changed.
For example, feminists gender critical often express concerns about the lack of protection in self-identification (Self-ID) policies, and the negative effects of such policies on female survivors of male sexual violence. Not to be outdone, last week my former colleague and fervent transactivist professor Alison Phipps wrote on TwitterWhen I go to a public toilet I am incredibly vigilant - I scan every woman I meet and ask myself if she is a 'gender-critical feminist'. Their obsession with what's in everyone's trousers is frightening and as a woman cis e survivor, it makes me feel very insecure'. Now, either this shows a level of paranoia on par with Q-Anon's concerns about 'reptilians' in the White House, or is it a not subtle attempt to provoke feminists gender critical.
Or take University of Berkeley 'professor' Grace Lavery, currently in the UK promoting on Woman's Hour a new book about his penis, and on which he gave at University College London a conference entitled "The critical gender movement is the greatest threat to academic freedom in the last generation". I was told that in the speech, my name came up - you know, that former professor who was harassed for saying that biological sex matters - as someone who is supposedly personally responsible for the recent serious losses of freedom of thought in the academies.
As with the more childish version, the nonsensical reversals ('no YOU are') such as those of Phipps and Lavery risk dragging you into unnecessary back-and-forth, which presumably, is their real intention. Try not to get involved. Do what mothers have been doing since time immemorial and pour yourself a nice gin. Take a sip and read this piece wonderfully warm, insightful and witty English scholars Christopher Castile and Christopher Reed, written in response to Grace Lavery's attempt - you know, that 'professor' who is very keen on protecting academic freedom - to delete them in 2018 for allegedly allowing 'transphobic fascism' in their writings. (Their alleged crime, according to Lavery, was to defend the use in some cases of birth names and real sex pronouns. And the attempted deletion was eventually successful.
In particular, as you read Castile and Reed's piece, dwell on these premonitory words: "What we too often face in university academies today is something that looks less and less like activism or erudition and much more like a acting-out adolescent. Now that scientists have decided that adolescence - a newly invented identity closely associated with advanced capitalism - persists into the third decade of human life, perhaps we should not be surprised to see behaviours associated with adolescents proliferating, being tolerated and sometimes even encouraged within educational institutions. To be specific, adolescent' is defined as the furious response to the discovery that others do not perceive you exactly as you would like to imagine yourself to be'.
5 - GET THEM OUT IN THE OPEN AIR
This last rule is quite simple. Get your transactivist troublemaker away from the screen or phone and into the fresh air. Inhibit the flow of crazy statements coming into innocent minds from LGBT organisations and blue-checked accounts on Twitter. Encourage them instead to run around, take off their shoes, splash around, get muddy and sweaty, and generally reconnect with their physical body and the natural world.
And if there is a member of the opposite sex, why not encourage them to arm wrestle or have a throwing contest? Both might learn something interesting. Perhaps this teaching could also fuel subsequent conversations about the presence of 'trans women' (biologically men) in women's sport.
* La Gillick competence is a term used in English medical law to decide whether a child under 16 is capable of consenting to his or her own medical treatment, without the need for parental permission or knowledge.
Translation by Angela Tacchini
Original article here