Julie Bindel Julie Bindel

Why a trans woman thinks self-ID is a mistake

Scotland is planning to change the way in which people can legally change sex, and is currently holding a consultation (which closes next week) on whether trans people should be able to ‘self identify’ as their preferred sex. But some trans people fear that the move toward ‘self-ID’ might be a mistake. Claudia is a proud Glaswegian living in London, and a trans-woman in her early 60s who underwent sex change surgery in the 1980s. She has serious concerns about the campaign to introduce self-ID for those wishing to legally identify as the opposite sex without going through a more thorough and longer medical process.

I first met Claudia in 2003 shortly after she had sought legal advice to make a formal complaint about the way police officers had dealt with her report of a serious sexual assault. Claudia had been the victim of an attempted rape, but when she reported it, police undermined and ridiculed her because she was a trans woman. I wanted to write an article about the archaic, sexist diagnosis of ‘transsexual’, with the notion that it is possible to be ‘trapped in the wrong body’. I was not expecting Claudia to tell me, alongside the horrific story of her attack and police negligence, that she regretted undergoing a sex change all those years ago.

We became friends, and my article was published to great acclaim. This was just before the trans-rights movement became a mouthpiece for extreme misogyny. In those days, compassionate people did not consider it an act of ‘actual, literal violence’ to speak out about failures in the medical profession regarding misdiagnosis of transsexuality.

A few years later I wrote about Claudia’s brave stance in supporting complainants against a psychiatrist who took just 45 minutes to diagnose her as suffering from ‘gender dysphoria’ back in 1986.

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