Saturday, 2 June 2018

A man has to be what he is


I dislike the idea of even having such a thing as a “Women’s Officer.” In the same way I dislike women only short lists for Parliamentary candidates or special literary prizes for women. I want to be judged on merit and I just don’t think that women require special treatment. I prefer on the whole to view people as simply that. Viewing everything through the lens of sex is at best unhelpful. It seems obvious to me based on experience that men and women are different. We are physically different, but we also think and feel differently. The main reason for this is that women can have children while men can’t. This fact alone accounts for the vast majority of the supposed inequality between the sexes. Men and women are objectively different. The one is neither better nor worse than the other. Rather we complement each other and in our togetherness create a new whole and a new wholeness.

In Britain as in much of the West we live in a country where Christianity is in decline and faith in God strikes many people as being no more sensible than believing that there are gods living on the top of Mount Olympus. Truth however is not democratic. It matters little if only twelve disciples know the truth so long as it is the truth.

But as we become more and more secular we are in danger of losing touch with the culture that created our country. Even if you think that there is no God and that the stories in the Bible are just stories it is necessary to acknowledge that we are as we are because people in the past believed these stories to be true. From this they handed down the culture and traditions that we acknowledge to be ours.

Even someone who doesn’t believe in any religion must still acknowledge that those who wrote Bible expressed something about humanity that was profound enough to last for thousands of years.  Even if you think the Bible is merely literature it has at least the truth that can be found in Shakespeare or Homer.

The moral norms that are characteristic of life in Europe are Christian even if we are no longer Christians. Why should we marry one person for life? There is no logical reason for this.  Why should we think that adultery is wrong? Why not instead marry as many people as we please and then have as many lovers as we want? I can’t think of a single rational reason why people should take part in a marriage ordained by God when there is no God.  Why not instead sleep with whomsoever you please when you please? Why limit your lust when it is no longer a sin? 

Many people would like to overturn the moral norms that most of us grew up with. They think the Bible is sexist, archaic and full of prejudice. But what happens when you overturn the moral norms of a culture and why would you suppose that this culture would survive the revolution?

I think most ordinary Brits still keep to the old ways even if our faith is weak. Most of us still think that God created us man and woman even when we don’t believe in God. What this means is that we think that the matter is fixed and that it is objective.

A woman gives birth. If she doesn’t know already, the first thing she asks is whether she has a baby boy or a baby girl. The question is answered in the same way that it has been since time began. There is no need for a DNA test. There is no need to wait until the child is older. This baby will become a man, but that baby will become a woman. It is fixed and finished.

I think the vast majority of us still think in this way. It is for this reason that when I mentioned on Twitter the story of a man standing to be a Labour Party Women’s Officer, a post only open to women, the response was one of bemusement. This man had done nothing to change his appearance. He looked like a man. He had a beard. He had a male name. But he simply asserted that on Wednesdays he identified as a woman. Initially this self-identification was enough for the local party to accept that he was indeed a woman and therefore could stand for the post. However, as soon as the story gained more and more press coverage, the Labour Party decided to suspend him for subverting the process of electing a Woman’s Officer.



In this particular case the man probably said enough to suggest that his intention was to demonstrate the folly of the Labour policy that a man can become a woman simply by saying that he is one. But what if he had played the hand straight and sincere? Someone quite soon will decide that he wants to be a Woman’s Officer, but will be a little bit cleverer about it. He will shave off his beard. Put on a dress and a wig and give himself a female name. Later he might tell the press that he was doing so only to make a point, at which time the Labour Party will suspend him. Alternatively he will keep quiet and continue being the Woman’s Officer.

The problem is this however. You don’t need to believe literally in the Fall to recognise that men and women are fallen. We are capable of doing good and doing evil. We are tempted to do wrong and frequently fail to resist temptation. We are cunning and like to take advantage of other people.  Some pretend they lived in the Grenfell Tower, others like to trick old ladies into giving away their life savings. If there is a loophole in tax law we want to take advantage of it. Well if there is an advantage in saying either that I am a man or else that I am a woman, then don’t be surprised when some people choose to take advantage of it.

Let’s say a man wants to get into Parliament, but Labour has said that the constituency he wants to stand for is only open for women. What is preventing him simply doing what it takes to make the Labour Party believe that he sincerely identifies as a Woman?

When feminists complain about the lack of women in Parliament, what is to prevent all the male MPs signing a letter that they actually self-identify as women and thus Parliament is completely female and something must be done to increase the number of male MPs?

What is to prevent an aging Andy Murray changing his name to Andrea and becoming the first British Woman since Virginia Wade to win Wimbledon? This is going to happen and it will mean eventually that there will be no women's sport simply because when anyone and everyone can compete, the thing that used to be called women's sport will cease to exist. 

This may all seem rather amusing, but at some point soon there is going to be a tragedy. What is preventing a serial rapist stating that he self-identifies as a woman and wants to be sent to a women’s prison? Nothing at all. There will soon be nothing to prevent a man from running a rape crisis centre or for men to take refuge in a centre for battered women.

Not very long ago the number of people who identified as transgender was vanishingly small. Most of us were willing to live and let live. I don’t personally believe that it is possible for a man to become a woman. God or nature fixed this and it cannot be changed. Alan Ladd put it rather well: “A man has to be what he is, Joey. You can't break the mold.” People who have problems with their identity are therefore best advised to learn to accept who they are rather than try to become someone who they are not. But these are just my beliefs. We live in a free society. People have sincerely held beliefs that are different from mine. I am more than happy for transgender people to do what they please with their bodies and to wear any clothes they like and call themselves what they will. They should be treated with kindness by the rest of us.



But there is a great danger that transgender people will lose all sympathy if their demands for transgender rights start impacting on the lives of the rest of us. If ordinary people start discovering that their five year old children are being encouraged to question whether they are a boy or a girl and that the whim of a small child leads to its parents being forced to accept that he is in fact a she, or else have him taken away, then people are going to begin to lose patience. If people with male anatomy start demanding access to women only spaces, then women are first going to get scared, next outraged and then demand that something be done to keep them out.  At this point I suspect sympathy and eventually kindness towards transgender people will begin to approach zero.

The vast majority of us think that being a man or a woman is something objective and that it is ridiculous to suppose that someone can simply become a woman or a man by merely stating that this is what they are. Let transgender people be who they please, but don’t try to overturn the reality of the rest of us.   

21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Precisely what law Effie may be laying down in this disquisiton is far from clear. Is she advocating ordinary good manners towards transgender people, or issuing a conditional caution to them? To add to the confusion, the last sentence is a contradiction, and non sequitur in respect of the one precedence it.

      Delete
    2. The penultimate word, of course, should be 'preceding'. Mea culpa.

      Delete
  2. Hopefully this will lead to a crisis in the "progressive"/PC movement that has been developing since the 1960s. The choice ultimately is between Christ and absurdity, but only God knows how long it will take for the West to understand this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The choice ultimately is between Christ and absurdity"

      Christianity, like all religion, is absurd. Its the willful abdication of reason.

      Delete
  3. If you are confused Simon & if you don't understand something, it doesn't necessarily follow that there is a problem with my logic. Feel free to be a Martian, but don't try to overturn the reality that it requires you to be from Mars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My genealogist tells me that everybody in my family tree, polydendrous as it may be, is an Earthling.

      Delete
    2. I have never undergone the kind of episode that befell Captain Carter, and, moreover, have rarely ventured more than a couple of miles from the Earth's surface.

      Delete
    3. I claim no competence in any non-tellurian languages at all, and certainly in none of those used on Mars.

      Delete
    4. On genealogical, exotopical, and glossological grounds, therefore, I am unable to satisfy the requirements for Martianity

      Delete
    5. A Welsh friend tells me that in his language The Planet Mars is usually accorded its full style, in order to avoid confusion with Tuesday and March.

      Delete
  4. The word 'impacting' is not without significance in this discourse. The use of 'impact' as a verb is fairly recent, and so its precise sense is not always as clear as it might be. The likelihood is that it refers to the production of some kind of effect. But, we ask ourselves, is the effect in question to be merely sufficient to register, or must it be palpably substantial? Must it be apparent to the impactee, or to others, or to both?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Transgender is a topic in which very view has indeed of us have any expertise at all. Like many people I find it quite, quite, baffling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best introduction to transgender that I have read is 'Conundrum' by Jan Morris (formerly James Morris).

      Delete
  6. Rather sweeping response from Stuart! Were I of a mischievous disposition, I'd request and require him to substante this breathtaking assertion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Someone quite soon will decide that he wants to be a Woman’s Officer"
    Someone already has, Liam "Lily" Madigan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So each and every woman will have assigned to her a dedicated officer - a sort of official cicisbeo, perhaps?

      Delete
  8. The classic account of this strange journey is, of course, Jan Morrus' 'Conundrum'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forgive me - I seem to have nodded.

      James Morris had a damn good war, went in for mpuntaineering, married, begat, and worked as a Times correspondent. At some point, he disappeared, to re-emerge as Jan Morris.

      Delete
  9. Since reading 'Conundrum', and having had the pleasure of meeting JM, I have consciously got to know several people who have made the same journey. (I would now by no means exclude the possibility that I have encountered others without realizing this.) They all have in common that they sensed from their earliest consciousness that something was not adding up. Well before they had the faintest inkling of what sexual feelings or the difference between the sexes might be, they *knew* that they were in the wrong body. Being accepted as such by their families made a crucial difference for them: rejection, or continued congealment for fear of rejection, had the unhappiest of consequences for other people they knew. The years of medical interventions had been wearisome and the legal procedures intrusive and humiliating, but the long ordeal had been worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete
  10. People who made the contrary journey have now started to emerge. Research indicates that gender dysphoria has always existed. When people with this condition take their steps at a mature age, thus can be very disruptive and distressing for marital and other partners, family, and friends. It would seem, then, that the earlier in life these matters are resolved the better.

    ReplyDelete