Written evidence submitted by Sheila Jeffreys to the Transgender Equality Inquiry

October 14, 2015

 

bigben Written evidence submitted by Sheila Jeffreys to the Transgender Equality Inquiry

Professor of Political Science, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne (currently on leave in London).

Expertise:

I am the author of a number of influential books, book chapters and scholarly articles on transgenderism including the 2014 book Gender Hurts: a feminist analysis of the politics of transgenderism (Routledge). Gender Hurts has been featured on Woman’s Hour in the UK and in The New Yorker, The Nation, Village Voice, and numerous other media outlets. See also my article ‘The Politics of the Toilet: a feminist analysis of the ‘degendering’ of a women’s space’ (2014) http://www.sheilajeffreys.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/toilet-article.pdfpublished-version.pdf

Transgender equality versus women’s equality: a clash of rights?

Summary:

The submission argues that any discussion of transgender equality should consider the ways in which such equality might violate women’s equality rights.

The submission argues that men who transgender should be not be treated in law and policy as if they are women if such treatment enables them to gain access to spaces set aside to ensure women’s dignity, security and right to organise as a specific rights bearing group, such as women’s refuges, women’s toilets, women’s prisons, women only political groups and activities.

The submission requests that ensuring women’s equality rights in relation to women’s spaces should inform the committee’s deliberations and that a policy guideline aimed at protecting such spaces should be drawn up.

1. Transgender equality rights:

This submission supports legislation and policy that seeks to prevent discrimination against persons who transgender. All persons should have rights of employment and access to services irrespective of how they choose to dress or present themselves in public. It supports the rights of those in a category called ‘transgender’ to protection from discrimination in the exercise of their proclivities. Gender is not the same as sex. Women require protection as a sex, as it is on the basis of and through their sex that women are discriminated against and suffer disadvantage. Women do not occupy low status on the basis of their ‘gender’, i.e. aspects of appearance and behaviour, but on the basis of sex. The protection of a category of men to express their ‘gender’ should not conflict with women’s right to protection from discrimination as persons of the female sex.

2. Omission of women’s interests in this inquiry:

Despite the fact that this committee’s name specifically references women, women’s equality rights are not included in the terms of reference for this inquiry. The inquiry does not refer to the effect that ‘equality’ for men who transgender might have upon women’s equality. Women’s and feminist groups are generally not invited to contribute to consultations on transgender rights as if they would have nothing relevant to say, despite the fact that men may, under the idea of transgender equality gain the right to be recognised in law as ‘women’. Women are the ‘absent referent’, not officially referred to, despite the fact that it is ‘women’ that the majority of those persons who wish to express their ‘gender rights’ seek to emulate. In this submission I have taken the liberty of writing from the point of view of the category of persons, women, whose interests are usually omitted from consideration in relation to this issue.

3. Clash of rights:

i. The demand for transgender equality may create a ‘clash of rights’ in which the rights demanded by one group of people can substantially endanger the rights of another group (Sniderman, Fletcher, Russell and Tetlock, 1997). In a clash of rights some adjudication has to be made as to whether the group involved in the rights demand that compromises the rights of another group, can be accommodated in human rights norms.

ii. In the case of the campaign for transgender equality the main category of persons seeking rights are persons of the male sex, that is, those responsible for the violation of women’s rights to, for example, live free from violence and the threat of death, to freedom of movement and expression, to freedom from discrimination (Romito, 2008). These male persons do not generally just claim that they are disadvantaged in their own right as members of the category ‘transgender’, but that they actually are physically members of the female sex, women, as in the demand by male bodied transgenders that they should be able to enter spaces such as toilets, set aside for women. A most serious clash of rights is likely to occur when members of one rights-bearing category claim to actually be members of another category.

iii. A clash of rights occurs also when members of one rights-bearing category, persons who transgender, promote ideas and practices which are recognised in international law as harmful to the equality of another group. Persons who transgender do not change their biological sex but follow the norms in outward appearance that are called in human rights terms ‘gender stereotypes’. The promotion within the politics of transgenderism of the idea that an essential ‘gender’ exists and that the appropriate ‘gender’ for persons of the female sex is represented in particular forms of clothing and mannerisms creates a clash with the rights of women. In international law gender stereotypes are recognised as being in contradiction to the interests of women. The importance attributed to the elimination of these stereotypes is exemplified in the wording of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which feminists advocated for throughout the 1970s until its promulgation in 1979. Article 5 of CEDAW calls upon States Parties, to ‘take all appropriate measures’ to ‘modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudice and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women’ (United Nations, 1979: Article 5). ‘Stereotyped roles’ are, according to feminist critics of the practice, the very foundation and sine qua non of transgenderism, and the notion of ‘gender identity’ (see Jeffreys, 2014). The promotion of such stereotypes by men who transgender is harmful to women’s equality and this could be seen as a reason why ‘transgender equality’ inevitably conflicts with women’s rights.

4. Why men who transgender should not have access to women’s spaces:

i. Men who transgender should not have access to women’s spaces because they do not change their biological sex and do not become female. Moreover, the majority of these male-bodied persons (85%) retain their genitalia (Transgender Law Centre, 2005). There is no requirement in UK legislation such as the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, that recognition as transgender must involve hormonal or surgical treatment. Thus male persons who access women’s spaces may be physically entire and express their gender identity only through the assumption of feminine stereotypes, i.e. gender, in their appearance.

ii. The behaviour of men who transgender towards women resembles the behaviour of men who do not transgender in respect of male pattern violence i.e. some male-bodied transgenders, like their non-transgendering counterparts, have a pattern of violent practices towards women such as murder, rape, sexual harassment. The linked website provides a collection of newspaper accounts of sexual violence against women and girls by men who transgender: https://outofmypantiesnow.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/when-is-90-not-substantially-all/ The response from transgender rights campaigners is sometimes that the men who are violent are not genuine transgenders, but since transgenderism is not a biological condition but a mental one, adjudication of genuineness is not possible. Increasing numbers of those who have transgendered are deciding that they have made a mistake and engaging in ‘detransition’, which reveals that the mental condition can be temporary and evanescent. A google search reveals 19,600 pages of resources for persons who seek to detransition.

5. Women’s spaces:

Three varieties of spaces deliberately segregated to protect women’s dignity and security will be considered here: women’s refuges, women’s toilets and women’s prisons.

i. Women’s refuges: Women’s refuges were established to create a place of refuge for women who have suffered violence from men. From their inception the majority of refuges have sought to offer women spaces where they are not forced to interact with men in order to enable them to recover from the trauma they have suffered. Unfortunately, as a result of the campaign for transgender equality, refuge provision for women is increasingly being opened up to men who ‘identify’ as women through the adoption of stereotyped feminine accoutrements. Some of these men have histories of violence against women and media reports of court cases involved rape by such persons is starting to emerge. In a Canadian case a man called Christopher Hambrook was found guilty of sexually assaulting ‘four vulnerable females between the ages of five and 53 in Montreal and Toronto over the past 12 years’ in two shelters for homeless women and women escaping domestic violence (Pazzano, 2014). He accessed the shelters by claiming to identify as a woman called ‘Jessica’. Clear dangers arise when women residents are forced to share bathrooms and bedrooms with violent men who profess to have gender identities.

ii. Women’s toilets: Women’s toilets constitute spaces in which women are particularly vulnerable and for this reason, to protect women’s dignity and safety, they have tended to be segregated ever since women’s rights campaigners in the nineteenth century demanded such provision. As a result of campaigns for transgender equality, men who crossdress and transgender are increasingly gaining the right to access women’s toilets. There are a quite surprising number of cases in which men wearing women’s clothing have been arrested for engaging in behaviour in women’s toilets that harms women. This webpage provides information and links to numerous occasions on which men dressed in stereotyped women’s clothing have engaged in sexual violence in women’s bathrooms/toilets: https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/men-love-the-ladies-restroom-transgender-edition/ l The range of acts they engage in includes secret photographing of women using the toilets and showers, making audio recordings of women urinating or defecating, peeping at women from adjacent stalls or under stall dividers, demanding that women recognise them as women and becoming aggressive if women do not, luring children into women’s toilets in order to assault them, and sexual assault. In a British case, a man dressed up as a ‘mannequin with a mask and a wig’ to enter a cubicle in the women’s toilets in a shopping mall, where he ‘performed’ an unspecified ‘sexual act’ (Ninemsn staff, 2011). The 22 year old man told police he ‘found the sound of women on the toilet sexually exciting’. The man had filmed women’s feet from beneath cubicle doors on his mobile phone, and recorded the sound of a flushing toilet.

iii. Women’s prisons: Women’s prisons are spaces in which women are confined and unable to escape unwanted attention from males. The fact that women may have to share cells and shower facilities with men who are seeking to transgender could be seen as an extra layer of punishment. Male prisoners in western countries are using human rights laws successfully to gain access to transgender treatment at public expense in prison, and the right to then transfer to the women’s estate. These men are often precisely those who are most violent and dangerous to women’s safety, having been convicted of grave crimes including the murder of women. In 2009, an appeal from an unnamed, violent male prisoner in the UK to be moved to a women’s prison was successful. The petitioner in this case was found guilty in 2001 of the manslaughter of his male lover who was strangled with a pair of tights, allegedly for refusing to fund the murderer’s sex change surgery. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Five days after his release he attempted to rape a female stranger and was sent back to prison (Allen, 2009). The man’s lawyer told the court that the crimes were all linked to ‘a desperation to become a woman’. The judge declared that ‘her (sic) continued detention in a male prison is in breach of her rights under Article 8 [the right to private and family life] under the European Convention on Human Rights’. The notion of human rights is trivialised thereby. In response to the judgement, new guidelines were issued for the treatment of prisoners seeking gender reassignment in UK prisons in March 2011, which enabled prisoners to have treatment and to be located in women’s prisons. Unfortunately, there seems to be no acknowledgement here of the more serious and pressing right of women to avoid being compulsorily housed with violent men.

Conclusion

Persons of one biological sex who consider that they have a ‘gender identity’ stereotypically associated with the other sex do suffer discrimination and need protection. A problem arises, however, when ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are confused, to the extent that male-bodied persons gain a right to enter spaces set aside for women. In such a case a clash of rights is created. Persons who wish to express a gender identity not usually stereotypically associated with their biological sex need to be accommodated in ways that protect them, but do not conflict with the rights of women.

Recommendations:

That the protection of women’s rights to dignity and security and to separate women’s spaces should be an underlying principle guiding the deliberations and recommendations of this committee. That the committee should establish a guideline that ensures such protection.

References

Allen, Vanessa (2009, 5 September). Transsexual killer and attempted rapist wins ‘human rights’ battle to be moved to women’s prison. London: The Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1211165/Transexual-prisoner-wins-High-Court-battle-moved-womens-jail.html

Jeffreys, Sheila (2005). Beauty and Misogyny: harmful cultural practices in the west. London: Routledge. Jeffreys, Sheila (2014). Gender Hurts: a feminist analysis of the politics of transgenderism. London: Routledge.

Ninemsn Staff (2011, 18 April). Man dressed as mannequin found in mall toilet. Australia: Nine News. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/8238380/man-dressed-as-mannequin-found-in-mall-toilet

Pazzano, Sam (2014, 15 February). A sex predator’s sick deception. Toronto Sun. http://www.torontosun.com/2014/02/15/a-sex-predators-sick-deception

Romito, Patrizia (2008). A Deafening Silence. Hidden Violence against Women and Children. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Transgender Law Centre (2005). Peeing in Peace: a Resource Guide for Transgender Activists and Allies. San Francisco Transgender Law Centre. 20 August 2015

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http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/transgender-equality/written/19512.html

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23 Responses to “Written evidence submitted by Sheila Jeffreys to the Transgender Equality Inquiry”

  1. GallusMag Says:

    Related:

    Written evidence submitted by Women and Girls Equality Network (WAGEN) to the Transgender Equality Inquiry

    Written evidence submitted on behalf of Women and Girls Equality Network (WAGEN) by Dr Julia Long

    http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/transgender-equality/written/19634.html

    Written evidence submitted by Radical Feminist Legal Support Network to the Transgender Equality Inquiry

    http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/transgender-equality/written/19258.html

    Written evidence submitted by Stephanie Davies-Arai to the Transgender Equality Inquiry

    http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/transgender-equality/written/19445.html

    Written evidence submitted by Lesbian Rights Group to the Transgender Equality Inquiry

    http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/transgender-equality/written/19560.html

  2. OldPolarBear Says:

    “Hear, hear!” as members of that body Sheila Jeffreys is addressing sometimes say.

    I can remember back in the 70s when the US Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was being debated, certain persons were all, “We mustn’t pass this; if we do, then men will be able to come into women’s restrooms!” and sure enough … uh-oh, wait … that’s right; we DIDN’T PASS the ERA but now men are being allowed to come into women’s restrooms. Funny thing, that.*

    *Obviously I mean not funny-haha, but a funny-odd coincidence.

  3. Mary Sunshine Says:

    Reblogged this on Female Biology Matters and commented:
    Protection of women and girls, and our female biology, from invasive, predatory female-impersonators i.e. trannies

  4. southwest88 Says:

    I was around when the “men will be in the women’s restroom” thing was used to trash the ERA. It was very effective. So now we can tell folks that the men are already crashing into women’s spaces without it so why not pass the ERA? Make sure it stays about sex, the immutable characteristic, and not the slippery fluid jenda crap. Maybe it would be best to tackle this now – back a lawsuit by a woman harmed by men entering women’s space and get this whole issue of whether the laws/rules keeping women space’s from men were based on sex or gender identity. There is NO doubt that anything other than biological true sex was meant when the laws were written. The current Supreme Court would most likely rule that sex was what was meant and what is to be the protected characteristic. 20-30 years from now the Supreme Court may be made up of folks from the jenda-feels days and women will be up a creek if no precedence is set in the next decade.

  5. atranswidow Says:

    For anyone with 2 and a half hours to spare this is the video of the Women and Equalities Committee-subject Transgender Equality held on Tuesday 13th October 2015.

    http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/4e7f52c6-1357-43f8-98c0-af160b156b40

    It starts off with discussion of ”self-declaration” as the ”golden-standard” rather than applying to the Gender Recognition Panel for a Gender Recognition Certificate in order to change gender legally.

    They have already had oral and written evidence from groups such as GIRES and Mermaids…….

    http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/women-and-equalities-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/transgender-equality/

    Still watching……..fascinating…..discussion of x as a gender category on passports.

    11.28-11.38 discussion of the ”spousal veto”.

    11.48 discussion of trans women’s access to women’s refuges

    11.58 access to toilets and changing rooms…..they’re represented as places where trans people are discriminated against. No mention of women’s issues 1 and a half hours in.

    From 12.00 there are personal stories.

    I hope that Sheila Jeffrey’s written evidence is put into the balance as it’s a very one sided discussion.

  6. Margie Says:

    Congrats to Gallus and GenderTrender on getting cited in Jeffreys’ submission. It’s great to see your hard work recognized and cited. I also love how Jeffreys uses “transgender” as a verb. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. This will drive the trans activists into a frothy rage.🙂

  7. frenchfem Says:

    This inquiry is after changing the law and we will end up in an Orwellian situation where calling a man a man will be hate speech and will get us to jail.
    it is crucial women keep on speaking the truth. after all this trans movement is only after one thing, our submission. when a man demands a woman to call him “she” he is only after her our submission. women calling men “she” show their submission to patriarchy, they will go with the flow, they will not disagree with a man in public they will be compliant. We must resist this and do exactly the contrary every time we get a chance. at least i will.

  8. JoannaDW Says:

    And herein lies my main “beef” with liberal activism in general and feminism in particular. ..the curse of “tolerance” and “open-mindedness,” perhaps the two most overrated virtues of our time. It is not enough now to defend someone’s right to exist, be heard and have their day in court, so to speak (the original purpose of tolerance). Now we must celebrate the ideas and behaviors of the person we’re defending, not to criticize them and to shield them from emotional distress. I don’t think so. I’m damn sick of the constant demand that we “tolerate” and be “open” to people that don’t share our goals or that are openly contemptuous of our goals, and our boundaries, and us. I’m so done with people ignoring social trends and making activism all about them, their special snowflake individual feelings and circumstances. Want to criticize the social privileges of being a straight married spouse? Can’t do that. You’ll hurt the feelings of straight married people. Want to examine the dangers of being dependent on men? Can’t do that, because stay at home moms with husbands might be offended. Want to criticize the minimum wage and exploitative labor practices? Can’t do that. Because my uncle’s friend’s brother’s roommate’s girlfriend’s son started off making $3/hr washing dishes and is now a millionaire. Wouldn’t want to undermine his success would we?

    And notice that it’s WE that need to be tolerant and obliterate our boundaries. The people that we’re supposed to tolerate are under no obligation to respect us, our preferences, our feelings, our freedom of expression. They don’t have to check their privilege for the benefit of our feelings. Nope, it’s our job to serve and be everyone’s lackeys. You get to a point where you’re so “open” and “tolerant” that you lose sight of your goals, your purpose, your sense of self and group identity. You become “tolerant” of people whose goal is abuse and exploitation, and as a “good” liberal, you are required to take it. I’m saying no and I’m sticking to it.

    I was passionate about transgender rights when Gwen Araujo was murdered. I was accepting of transgender rights when a little femme boy wanted to join Girl Scouts. I was rolling my eyes when Laverne Cocks and Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the scene and I reached peak trans when I learned from a tumblbrat that it is now transphobic to refer to unaltered individuals as biologically male/female because saying “biological” implies that trans people aren’t normal. Look, if transactivists can send us rape and death threats, then I as a GENETIC FEMALE reserve the right to call XY male. If trans people can have their own spaces and their own movement, then so can GENETIC females, end of.

    Good for Sheila for telling it like it is and hopefully being heard by people in government. I hope she can stand strong in the face of the abuse she must be facing. I only wish the US would catch up.

    • Ashland Avenue Says:

      Joanna, that post was so fucking good it actually turned me on. Thanks for a lovely start to the day!


      • Anytime.:) I live to serve. *wink*

        In all seriousness, I’m glad I found this place. I’m not a radfem myself (I’m a socialist fem with a libertarian streak). I am also a homoflexible bisexual (my way of saying that I strongly prefer women and tend to be turned off by men, even though I am still open to the right men. Not trying to do queer speak, I promise!) person who was deep into mainstream feminism years ago. I was also deep into mainstream LBGTQQMILFWHATEV during that time. Even though I do not claim the lesbian feminist label, I am drawn to lesbian feminist spaces after years of being silenced *by my own community* on places like LiveJournal, Facebook, Tumblr, and increasingly, the colleges that I attended before I dropped out. It’s such a relief to find that, in spite of our differences, I’m not alone.

      • GallusMag Says:

        @joannadeadwinter- Please stop using my blog as a place to pick up women.
        Hahahahaha! Just kidding! Have at it! 😛

    • KgSch Says:

      Very good point of how we (women) must always be the most accommodating and give up our group identity. I personally do not use the term “biological woman” just because men of any kind are not women of any kind. But it goes to show how the language policing never stops.

      “Tumblbrat” is a good term. Some commenters on gendertrender use that site, and there are some good things about it, but the politics are almost always bad. Most so-called “radfems” there are way too cowardly to link to this site (because Gallus Mag is the real deal), but they’ll definitely plagiarize. One of them turned copied a conversation between myself and other commenters here almost word for word. She later deleted the post but it lives on through reblogs.

  9. Livvie Says:

    Brava, Sheila. Thanks to her for speaking out. I hope that her voice is heard and respected with the passage of legislation that protects women, not autogynephiles.

    Also, Gallus, thank you for all those links. They’re pretty amazing reads. It gives me hope that people are slowly starting to wake up to the dangers women face at the hands of trannies.

  10. charlson Says:

    My ex BIL abused my sister and kids to the point she had to go to a womens refuge. I am talking holding screwdrivers to her throat till their kids said mummy is bad to placate him.
    Long story short he somehow found the refuge, knocked on the door, smashed the lock then hit a woman holding a baby in her arms who happened to be in his way and took off with 2 of his 3 kids.
    This happened and it took weeks for the courts to do something, He was much stronger than my sister and had no respect for the women at all. He was not trans but the anger probs are not dissimilar. We need some form of mental safety in these places.

  11. Cady Says:

    Sheila Jeffrey’s is amazing and fearless. Always speaking truth to power in a rational, clear, fair and informed way. We need her here. Thank you Gallus, for this important post and links. Your site is one of the best and so essential in our women’s struggle for liberation from the patriarchy and all it’s ghastly forms, the trans cult only the latest. States here are now being confronted with this same crap: men performing as women, or faking it, wanting our safe spaces. In Massachusetts it is being considered. The liberal mindset is big here, “we are so full of empathy for everyone, they are weeping and screaming about their rights, we must be open and liberal and let them pee wherever they want. Screw women’s safety from male violence. These trannies are good people. Let them have full access to girls and women, who cares about them.” Does anyone know of any women’s/lesbian groups here in the U.S, who will, as these British links illustrate, speak up for WOMEN,S and Girl’s rights? Any contacts in Ma.? We need to organize.

  12. KgSch Says:

    Thank you Sheila Jeffreys for having the courage to speak out and thank you Gallus Mag for posting this.


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