The mainstream left ignores the existence of bad faith actors when covering transgender issues, assuming nobody will abuse ‘inclusivity’.
For many, perhaps most, people on the left the campaign for trans rights is simply a logical extension of the earlier fight for LGB rights. The LGBT+ initialism is seen as an unproblematic expression of this, largely taken for granted, reality.
However, in practice, the linking of ‘LGB’ and ‘T+’ is problematic because, while the campaign for LGB rights involved no negative consequences for others (apart from bigots), the same is not true for T+ rights: trans rights inevitably impact on the sex-based rights of others. Unsurprisingly, there are no men’s rights groups campaigning to protect their sex-based rights in the face of trans men, because men don’t feel threatened by trans men, but there are now many ‘gender critical’ women’s rights groups campaigning to protect their sex-based rights in the face of the threat posed by gender self-ID and, as we will see, these threats are real.
Trans-activist organisations and left-wing news and opinion outlets dismiss such claims as ‘transphobic’ scaremongering and retort with the counterclaim that such views only add to the marginalisation, harassment and violence that trans people already face. Additionally, they still routinely claim that there is little or no evidence that affirming and accepting the gender identity people claim poses any risks to the safety, comfort or privacy of women and girls.
This view is mistaken because it ignores the existence of bad faith actors. There is no reason for people who are gay, lesbian or bi-sexual to falsely lay claim to such an identity, but there are many reasons for malevolent or mediocre men to claim that they are ‘really’ women. Women’s sports and athletics, women-only shortlists for political office, literary competitions, spaces reserved for women, all are vulnerable to the incursion of bad faith actors. But the area where this poses the greatest threat relates to trans-identifying males who feign a trans identity to abuse women and children.
The evidence that this happens on a significant scale is incontrovertible. Yet left-wing news outlets in the UK which actively promote trans rights, studiously avoid publishing anything that points to this reality whilst agonising over the epidemic of violence against women and girls.
Three different strategies used by such outlets can be identified: ignore the issue entirely, contend that there is no contradiction in calling for both women’s rights and trans rights, or claim that bad faith actors are a rare problem. Each strategy can be illustrated by looking at three left-wing news outlets in the UK which devote a lot of space to trans issues and are representative of the range of left-wing positions.
Novara Media, which publishes many articles by trans-activist commentators who routinely refer to the UK as ‘Terf Island’, simply ignore it as an issue. [TERF is an acronym which stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists and is used as a slur by trans activists against gender critical feminists on the basis that trans people are singled out for discriminatory treatment. This is erroneous: trans women are not ‘singled out’ but are included alongside all biological males as potential threats.]
The Socialist Worker addresses the issue but sees no conflict between calling for both trans rights and women’s rights on the basis that “…no man needs to be a transwoman to carry out violent attacks (on women)” (27 Jan 2023). This is, of course, perfectly true. But it is also true that plenty of men clearly believe that identifying as a woman will facilitate their access to women and children precisely in order to abuse them!
The final example is the UK’s largest left-leaning national newspaper, The Guardian. In a recent article (25 July 2023) Gaby Hinsliff refers to two cases where trans-identifying males have committed violent sexual assaults against women and writes “…of course, cases like that of (Isla) Bryson and Karen White… are rare.” This claim, endlessly repeated by progressive commentators, is simply untrue. Indeed, so commonplace are instances of such crimes that Graham Linehan files his weekly reports on them in his online Glinner Update under the bitingly ironic title ‘This never happens’.
In the same article, presumably following the Guardian in-house style guide, Hinsliff refers to Bryson as “…a Scottish transgender woman who raped two women before she (my italics) transitioned…”. I’m all for extending to transsexuals the courtesy of referring to them by their preferred pronouns but referring to criminals like Bryson, who almost certainly belatedly discovered his ‘feminine side’ only to try to avoid being sent to a male prison, (where sex offenders are given a notoriously hard time) is ludicrous.
This policy of referring to trans men and trans women by their adopted-gender pronouns is widespread in the British media and reflects the guidance provided by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which most mainstream newspapers in the UK are signed up to. IPSO recently (July 2023) updated their guidance on reporting on sex and gender identity, first issued in 2016. However, the new guidance represents a classic case of fence-sitting and leaves it more or less entirely to journalists’ own inclinations to decide how best to report on such issues. Indeed, commenting on the draught copy of the new guidance (which remained pretty much unchanged in the final version), Sex Matters UK argued that not only did it fail to improve on the earlier guidance, but “(I)n fact, it is worse”.
It might seem improbable that male offenders would claim, when up for trial, that they were in the process of transitioning just so that they could have the chance to be sent to women’s prisons. However, in January 2017, new prison regulations came into force in England and Wales which stated that “… all transgender prisoners (irrespective of prison location) must be allowed to express the gender with which they identify”. Following a Freedom of Information request, Fair Play for Women reported that by April 2017 the number of transgender prisoners compared to April 2016 had risen from 70 to 125.
In July this year, Inside Time reported that a so-far-unpublished piece of research by the MoJ confirmed that an unspecified number of sex offenders in prison were faking a trans identity. Indeed, so commonplace has this practice become internationally that a new initialism has been coined to refer to it: POGD – Prison Onset Gender Dysphoria.
In January 2023, following the Isla Bryson fiasco, the government announced it would be making changes to its transgender prisoner policy framework. These came into force at the end of February and mean that trans women prisoners with intact male genitalia and those convicted of sexual or violent offences will no longer be allowed into the female prison estate.
In the same edition of The Guardian, the transsexual trans-activist Robin Moira White, writing about the safety of women and girls, seeks to draw a clear distinction between ‘predatory men’ and ‘trans people’. The problem though is that these are not discrete populations. Of course, most trans women are not predatory, but some who claim this label are! And given that the only criterion that needs satisfying to be identified as ‘trans’ is the claim that one identifies as such, there is nothing to stop predatory men identifying as trans.
Maria MacLachlan (Peak Trans), herself the victim of an assault by three trans-identified males at Hyde Park Corner, has done as much as anyone to draw attention to this phenomenon and lists dozens of examples globally on her website. She also draws attention to a website called Trans Crime UK which meticulously details hundreds of cases going back to 2014 of convictions of trans-identified males for a wide range of crimes, including murder, serious crimes of violence and sex crimes against women and children in the UK. These are not figments of the imagination of deranged transphobes but are all detailed in court reports.
Of course, without further research, it is not possible to know for sure how many of these criminals were feigning a trans identity as opposed to being genuine in their self-identification. In a sense, however, it doesn’t matter. Either they were feigning, in which case they were acting in bad faith, or they weren’t, which means that more than a few trans women are predators. The left can’t have it both ways!
The existence of bad faith actors is why the Labour Party was right in July this year to row back on its previous commitment to support gender self-ID, and why those who support it – like the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly – are being reckless with the lives of women and children. Until the left is prepared to acknowledge this problem there is no prospect of a consensus between left and right on the need to protect both trans rights and women’s sex-based rights.