Julie Bindel

Why a trans woman thinks self-ID is a mistake

Why a trans woman thinks self-ID is a mistake
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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. Due to this diagnosis, Claudia was given irreversible cross-sex hormones aged 26 and had full sex change surgery two years later.

When it became public that Claudia was a ‘regretter’ she was bullied, vilified and ostracised by her so called ‘community’. I witnessed it. This radical feminist who did not believe that people were ‘trapped in the wrong body’ and the transsexual woman, a camp, larger-than-life person who once described the love of her life as looking like a cross between George Best and Jesus Christ, found common ground.

Today, Claudia ‘cannot understand why the Scottish Government entertains this absurd, dangerous and divisive idea of self-ID... Those who self-ID desperately wish to access women’s spaces, which makes it dangerous for those women and girls. That’s a fact.’

Although Claudia and I do not necessarily agree on everything to do with trans rights and ‘what makes a woman’ we are both deeply uncomfortable with a proposal that would give natal males the right to decide they are female.

‘I was deeply shocked to find that the 2018 consultation had only 15,500 responses, and yet the government was all set to push through ID based on such a tiny percentage of the nation.' A change to self-ID 'would bring about such radical change that affects women, children and trans women like myself,’ she says.

I ask Claudia about children transitioning and the massive increase in the number of under-18s presenting at gender clinics.

‘At 26 and of reasonable intelligence, I lived to regret my decision. No child wishing to change can give informed consent or have a real grasp of the fact that they can change to the opposite gender role but will never be accepted as just any other male or female.’

Claudia has a fascinating story to tell about her life, both before and after transition, but has been censored and shut down from doing so. Having secured both an agent and a publishing deal for a book, Claudia then found herself on the same side of those of us that have been silenced and de-platformed.

‘Trans activists successfully managed to rob me of my publishing deal,’ says Claudia. ‘My autobiography was accepted by a reputable book agent, signed and sealed but never delivered. Why were they so afraid of a trans woman writing the truth of living this existence?’

‘Now they physically attack you when you try to speak. Does that mean that they would wish violence on me? I intend to speak in public after publication of the book, whatever they threaten me with.’

For Claudia, to be at odds with the trans community is as painful as it is incomprehensible, but she refuses to shy away from the fact that the extreme trans activists could risk destroying fundamental rights.

‘I blame this toxic row over self-ID for the scrutiny which we are now under,’ she says. ‘Because men who do not pass and have not had the surgery or hormones are demanding access to women-only spaces, we are all under scrutiny and our rights are in danger of disappearing.’

For example what would happen if she became ill? ‘I would rather die on the street than be in a male ward,’ says Claudia. ‘For someone like me living in the opposite gender role for almost 40 years, suddenly to have the rights I have taken from me is calamitous.’

Claudia’s final word is about young trans-identifying people.

‘The numbers detransitioning shows that this simply must stop. The outward journey is mind bending, the return journey must be even worse,’ she says. ‘I see a generation of very damaged young people, their bodies and minds ruined. Because of the puberty blockers and opposite-sex hormones, those who wish to return to their former selves, never will. Their original selves are lost. I know this from my own life. I lost myself.’

Written byJulie Bindel

Journalist, author, broadcaster, feminist campaigner against sexual violence.

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