They have come for Kathleen Stock. Who is next?

A message of solidarity

Believe me ,I never want to write about this fuckery again but I cannot stand by.

I saw Kathleen Stock’s tweet which said

“My former union branch@sussexucu has just effectively ended my career at Sussex University. This just sent to all members.

Basically, then the Union do not care for Stock’s safety or well-being and never have. “Appeals to both employment rights and academic freedom are often instrumentalised in this context”

Instrumentalised is an interesting weasel word. It’s a little like “weaponised” isn’t it? Women who argue for single sex spaces, often because they have directly experienced male violence are accused often by those who consider themselves progressive as weaponizing their trauma. Even women who have been raped in a crisis centre need to be re-educated. Mridul Wadhwa, a transgender woman who runs one of Scotland’s biggest rape crisis centres said the women she deals with  could not recover unless they addressed their “unacceptable beliefs”.

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Sure , when you have just been raped you need to think about complex issues affecting possibly 1% of the population. Who knows trans people may be the very last thing on your mind? It is men you are scared of.

I do not know what Kathleen Stock is scared of right now. Masked protestors, female colleagues who will not support her or perhaps the basic fear of being unemployed. My heart goes out to her. Though the Vice Chancellor of her University supported her, the Union is making it impossible for her to work. This is awful for her and her family. And it is awful for any woman who has questions on “gender identity”.

Without re-hashing my story or the whole trans debate, I know something of which I speak. The letter written about transphobia at my former place of work by 338 apparatchiks did not name me, just as this “statement” does not name Stock. Who signed it? More anonymous scaredy-cats. There is little non-binary about being a coward.

There is little brave about persecuting a woman in the name of a higher cause. This cause is the protection of trans and NB people on campus who Stock has made a point of referring to with their preferred pronouns and including them in discussion.

 I never went to The Guardian offices but somehow I made trans people working there resign? How?

I read the terribly offensive thing  yonks ago I had written the other day, it ended thus

“This latest silencing of women is a warning. You either protect women’s rights as sex-based or you don’t protect them at all.

If the idea of women organising autonomously is transphobic you are walking into a cul-de-sac, which absolutely traps people in boxes that benefit the patriarchy. Because there is nothing the patriarchy fears more than women who no longer rely on male authority. We revert to a society where women have to be chaperoned, not trusted to make decisions about their own reality. Meanwhile, men-only spaces are how half the establishment operates and no one considers that to be transphobic. None of this discussion is about men giving up space for trans men; it is always about what women must accept.

Most people want the tiny percentage of the population who are trans to have the best lives they can. Living your best life would be one free of male violence. It is not feminists who murder trans people, although this might be the impression you would be left with if you relied solely on Twitter for your information.

Male violence is an issue for women, which is why we want single-sex spaces. Vulnerable women in refuges and prisons must be allowed to live in safe environments – the common enemy here is the patriarchy, remember? How did we arrive at a situation where there are shocking and rising numbers of teenage girls presenting at specialist clinics with gender dysphoria, while some who have transitioned are now regretful and infertile?

Women have the right to call out the violent men who rape. We have the right to speak and organise without being told that speech is itself dangerous. You can tell me to “die in a ditch, terf” all you like, as many have for years, but I self-identify as a woman who won’t go down quietly.

There are more of us than you think.”

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The Satanic Verses of Terfdom??

I think not. But I refer to The Satanic Verses as that was what I called the “big bang” of cultural relativism.  Should someone be killed because they had offended some fundamentalists? You had to choose a side. I chose then and now the side of free speech, of not bowing down to fundamentalists.

The thing that unites all fundamentalist religions is a fear and hatred of women who must be kept in their place. The most virulent trans rights activists share this. Most trans people don’t I am sure, not in my experience anyway. Strangely, yes I do have some experience of gender non-conformity and class. Intersectionality means to me not a way of closing  down speech but a way of opening it up , a way not to reinforce the patriarchy but to challenge it.

As always I have to reiterate I was never silenced or cancelled or ever claimed to be.

 I just found myself in an untenable working environment. Some of the letter signers in my case were from America and Australia , those feminist utopias, some I later heard had trans kids, something which I have huge empathy for and hope their children made happy lives for themselves supported by their families.  Others wrote me weird letters of apology claiming they didn’t really know what they were doing, which hardly gives me huge faith in the journalistic future of The Guardian but there you are.

Many people there supported me in private. The big names carried on with their bigger issues :the fascinating doings of the Labour Party. The editor carried on employing even more mediocre male columnists – quite a challenge - and anyone who wouldn’t frighten the horses in America. The Scott Trust did nothing. What a shit- show.

That paper cannot now even get its reporting right on such issues such as the  Wi Spa incident because ideology comes before facts. Anyway enough. I got another job and for all the haters out there as long as people want to read me, I will be in employment If that sticks in the craw of the witch finders , good.

I only wish I had left that nest of puritanical vipers earlier and am so much happier now. But at the time I felt broken, sick, devastated and betrayed. My loved ones were worried about me. It’s a horrible thing to go through and you feel quite mad. Private support is rolling in, literally 100s of messages and emails every day , often from big names or even former “enemies” who recognise unfairness when they see it.

This is only a little of what I imagine Kathleen Stock may be going through . The rug is pulled from under your feet and now this reasonable , quietly spoken woman has been thrust into the public eye.

Please don’t tell me “cancel culture” doesn’t exist. The public vilification of women – never men - who question the new fundamentalism with its doctrine of transubstantiation: male biology can become female biology , with its holy trinity Trans Women are Women. Trans Men are Men Non binary are Non Binary. Jesus , Jospeh , Mary and the Wee Donkey is now surely visible.

Stock, is not transphobic nor am I but it has been decided by what Matt D’Ancona calls ‘the tyranny of the hashtag’ that we are. So there is nothing I  can say here that will change anyone’s mind about that.

 Indeed I celebrate a much more fluid conception of gender that many Sussex students are into. As ever I just want to protect the rights of women and girls.

But here’s the thing. Women like me  won’t go away, we have fought tougher battles than this and that may be the generational difference here, not actually a huge ideological one.

We keep going. We survive.

 Try bringing up kids on your own and having a career as I have done. Try being working class in a middle class profession that functions on nepotism.

Try being a lesbian politician or academic. Try thinking for yourself. Try  being less nice, unpopular even. Try not to impress left-wing men with your revolutionary ideas on polyamory. Just be a slag. Or a square. Really who cares?

Try to be honest and to confront conflict in order to build bridges. Try understanding who is on your side and who the enemy really is.

Are the enemies of trans people really female writers , journalists and academics? Or is this enemy possibly the men who do damage to us all. Try to address that or are you too afraid?

I don’t blame you if you are. I don’t blame you for being quiet. I know the price you pay for not being. So does Kathleen Stock and many others.

All I can do is send my love and solidarity to her and hope you join me in that.

 One of these days though, the thought police may come for you. Freedom for women is a long way off but as of yet, though they may be  threatening our freedom of speech ,they cannot stop our freedom of thought or association.

Keep your wits about you. As I always says some of us are flame-retardant. The witch hunters gather anonymously because they are essentially fragile, unsure and confused about what they are fighting for. 

Expose them. They cannot debate, argue or even articulate their grievances. They hide behind hoods, masks and hashtags. What does that tell you ?

Kathleen, we have your back and as I said before so apparently offensively. “There are more of us than you think.”