Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones………will break my bones, but names will also hurt me.

I posted this image on a female only group today and the “backlash” was immediate. The comments weren’t about the fact that women are routinely called Slags on the one hand and Frigid on the other, or the fact that men are bosses but women are bossy, or that men are allowed opinions but women are opinionated – nobody cared about that. No, the backlash was against the words TERF and CIS. Of course it was *rolls eyes*.

For 52 years, I was “just” a woman. Large gamete producing, ie reproductively I have eggs and not sperm. And my large gamete producing capability has lead to female markers such as XX chromosomes, a female hormone profile, female body mass, female genitalia. Size 3 feet, not many men have those. 5ft 2″, not many blokes that short either. Hands so small I wear gloves for children aged 7-11. Periods. Menopause. Skipped the child birth through choice (and I only have a choice thanks to decades of feminist struggle) and have never regretted my decision.

These days, though, I am often referred to as a “cis” woman, ie a woman from birth. That’s to differentiate me from biological men who identify as women. It is a totally irrelevant word. Women are women from birth and remain biologically female until the day they die. Men are men from birth and remain biologically male. It’s just an irrefutable fact of life.

If a man has more societally feminine traits than male that’s fine by me. I could not care less if he wants to wear nail varnish, have his legs waxed or don a dress – whatever he feels happy doing. I’m quite tomboyish and couldn’t act societally girly if I tried. Everyone is free to feel however they wish to feel and to express their feelings in whatever way they choose. But feeling something doesn’t make it fact. I might act more like a boy than a girl, but I’m still female. My eggs haven’t “transitioned” into sperm while I sleep.

The word TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) is being used as a slur against women who state that sex cannot be changed, ie men can’t become women. It’s not how the word started life, but it’s currently being used in the trans war. And it is a war. It is so toxic women have received death and rape threats for saying that biological sex cannot be changed. They’ve lost their jobs and have even been arrested. Arrested for stating the bleeding obvious.

I’m not sure what’s radical about human biology. It just is. Atoms are atoms. Gametes are gametes.

The thing excluding men from being women is biology. But women are being theoretically stoned for saying this. It’s absolutely and utterly bonkers.

It is also harmful to women in a myriad of ways.

As someone who has 3 diseases which affect women 8 times more than men, and 2 diseases which only affect women, I have a vested interest in not allowing biological men to be included in medical research on my illnesses because the results will be skewed and worthless.

As the survivor of sexual abuse, my mental health would be affected by sharing intimate spaces like public toilets with someone with a penis.

As someone going through menopause, I want safe spaces in which to talk about my female only experience without shame or judgement.

I want car crash test dummies to be based on the female physique, which is different to the male physique, so that I am as safe as a man while driving my car and not at 40% greater risk of injury in a crash as per the current situation.

I want to compete in sports on an equal footing, not be competing against a sex which is taller, stronger and faster than me by way of their innate biology.

And so many other things.

But when I say that, I am accused of being “trans exclusionary” and immediately shut down. The other part of TERF, ie the radical and feminist part, is nonsense. Surely all women are feminists, ie they want to be treated equally to men, although with our differences recognized. And it’s hardly radical to say that biology is innate – I would dearly love to wake up tomorrow with a cute button nose instead of the ski slope that I was born with, but hating my nose and wishing it were different won’t make it so.

A lot of younger women don’t seem to care that men are fighting to be legally classed as women. It doesn’t surprise me. When the Suffragettes fought for votes for women they were often hugely derided by other women. Maybe the detractors were all happy to have no contraception, no financial autonomy, no legal rights, to be a man’s “chattel”, to legally be allowed to be beaten and to have no say in how their lives were lived. I personally can’t get my head around any woman being happy with that, but then I also can’t get my head around today’s women being happy to be legally eradicated and classed as no different to men. I mean, there are small steps backwards, then there is falling so far back down a black hole you’ve spent centuries climbing out of it’s unthinkable.

I removed my photo from the women only group, then left the group. I’m really poorly and it takes every ounce of energy I have to make a photograph like the one above. I don’t have the energy to fight a “backlash”. I’ve also turned comments off on this post for the same reason.

I stand by my picture, though. I stand by my 55 years of lived experience as a woman. I stand in my fear of the current anti-female climate (Roe v Wade, and the Scottish situation spring to mind, as do the death threats to JK Rowling simply for stating that biology matters).

I listen to a podcast which ends “if you loved this podcast please comment or use the like button. If you didn’t, don’t worry about it and feel free not to comment”. I wish more people did that.