avatarRachel Saunders

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Gender critical believers

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-woman-in-a-blazer-drinking-from-a-communion-cup-8815238/

When Maya Forstater won her right to have her personal beliefs about sex recognised by the UK courts, she proclaimed it as a moral victory of sex over gender ideology. That she ended up in court in part because she was part of a private group chat where she exhibited transphobic views often gets lost in the noise, that her personal beliefs are deeply offensive and targeted against a minority who previously could not care less about her. In establishing a new legal belief system she essentially turned the gender critical movement from a fringe movement into a quasi-cult. Maya was only the most prominent woman, the latest in a series of fringe voices, yet her victory sounded the starter gun for a reactionary counter-cultural movement explicitly aimed at stripping back all rights of trans folk in the English speaking world. While trans folk are more-or-less a broad church of views and opinions, gender critical voices are curating an ever tighter circle of “facts”, to the point that any opinion outside those are viewed as heretical. The believers are forming a cult, a sanctioned set of believers who are becoming more extreme.

Those beliefs are rooted in a version of feminism both reductive and deliberately distorting the core tenets of feminism. In their desperate desire to protect women’s spaces they ignore cis female predation, bullying, and harm, viewing all trans women as predators in waiting. It is reductive because it sees women as inherently the victims of society, and trans women always seeking out those victims for their crimes. It debases womanhood to the point that the only way to be a woman is to either be a victim or a victim in waiting. Indeed, if you read enough of their literature you soon see that the way they frame womanhood is that it is inaccessible to anyone who has not lived as a potential victim. Their mantra is to be woman is to suffer or waiting to suffer. A screed not unlike Catholic dogma.

They fixate on the idea that their beliefs define the world, that their personal ontology is the only way to see sex. Gender is an ideology in their mantras because they see sex as an ideology rooted in erroneous science. Yes, sex exists, but it is not the prison binding us to the world. For gender critical believers sex is all that matters, the only thing that should demarcate the human condition. Indeed, in their rush to ring fence sex as the singular virtue they leave out the rest of what makes us who we are. Middle class, middle aged, white women are sucked into this victim industrial complex, duped into believing that their ills will be solved by hating trans folk.

Yes, women have the right to single sex spaces, all women cis and trans. That does not mean that gender critical believers get to make demands of trans inclusive women, or gaslight those who support trans rights. Gender critics are a small movement with an outsized voice, vixens in the feminist henhouse. Trans inclusive spaces have become the norm precisely because wider society sees trans women as women, as an ontological fact not an artefact of deranged minds. Hate springs from a place of despair and misunderstanding, and transphobia springs from a desire to control women’s bodies at the sake of their own safety. Yet, the reality is that if trans folk disappear as Helen Joyce wishes, those gender critical voices will turn on their own and erase all the vibrant hues of womanhood till there is only a pale grey.

And this is the central issue of any cult, it always devours its own. No movement ever survives eating its own; indeed a hallmark of fanaticism is that you will never be pure enough for the extremists. To them anyone else who deviates is weak, to be exorcised. Gender critical beliefs are becoming more extreme because all beliefs need impetus, need fuel to keep them going. From the posting of porn to prove the point that Munroe Bergdoff is a man to the repeated disinformation over trans women in the UK prison system, they are using the tactics of the right wing to score points and whip up more hate.

It is no longer enough to simply say trans women are women or to point to evidence, it is almost as if they are immune to the reality of the human condition. They see trans kids as being groomed, trans adults are violent offenders in all but name. It is simply deranged on a level that has hit the mainstream media in a way that we have not seen since the AIDS epidemic. The language, the tone, the accusations, the assumptions, the lies. Helen Joyce gets to spread lies, Hannah Barnes is never fact checked, Maya Forster forgets the second part of her appeal decision that clearly states her beliefs are not to be weaponised. Kathleen Stock exemplifies the victim mentality, using her own personal views as a crutch to grift for money after trans inclusive society rejected her screeds. They all forget history, forget that they are doing the bidding of those who fund their activities, driving a wedge into the feminist movement and turning women on women.

Gender critical believers do not want facts or evidence to get in the way of their values, nor do they care about the collateral damage they cause along the way. They castigate the mother of a trans suicide victim, hurl vile abuse at trans kids, and are completely mono focused on anti-trans views. Their accounts, their professional lives, indeed their whole existence is centred on their gender critical beliefs, they make it an obsession. Like any extremist movement it will only get harder edged, harsher, more abusive. Its victims are trans folk, cis women, kids, indeed anyone who gets in the way of their values. Gender critical believers dehumanise trans folk, making them something below anything of value or substance. Indeed, they turn a highly marginalised group into the enemy, attempting to reclaim a sense of power by bullying and weaponizing their beliefs. We need to call gender critical beliefs what they are, an extremist movement in need of deprogramming.

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