Brendan O’Neill

Germaine Greer can say whatever she likes about trans politics

Germaine Greer can say whatever she likes about trans politics
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If you want to know how crazy, even Kafkaesque, this young millennium has become, consider this: yesterday it was reported that a person with a penis — Caitlyn Jenner — will be named Glamour magazine's Woman of the Year, while over at Cardiff University a woman who has done more than most to secure the liberation of womankind — Germaine Greer — was denounced by a swarm of Stepford Students as ‘transphobic’, someone who should make all right-minded people feel ‘sick to [their] stomachs’.

This is the world you live in, folks. One in which a bloke can be globally celebrated as an inspiring woman — and heaven help the brave soul who asks: ‘But is this strapping former athlete with testicles really a woman?’ — while an actual inspiring woman, whose balls are only metaphorical, can be labelled a disgrace to ‘feminism and society’.

The Cardiff crazies trying to prevent Greer from giving a lecture at their Uni next month even call her ‘misogynistic’, on the basis that she ‘misgenders trans women’ (ie, she thinks people with dicks are men). So a man in a frock is hailed as a great woman, while Germaine Greer is branded a misogynist. Where does one even begin to unpick such unhingedness?

The campaign to have Greer kept off Cardiff’s campus is only the latest act of student censoriousness. Having banned the far right, Zionists, Blurred Lines, the Sun, sombreros and too many other people and things to mention, now the weird new breed of book-burning students wants to stop Greer from giving a lecture titled ‘Women and Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century’ at Cardiff on 18 November.

Her crime? She refuses to bend her knee at the altar of trans correctness, which makes her a 21st-century heretic in the eyes of the gender-bending, lingo-monitoring enforcers of the new campus intolerance. Just as those who once doubted that bread became Christ’s flesh following some priestly incantations would be cast out of decent society, so those who today question if a man can become a woman simply by saying ‘I’m a woman!’ will have their moral fitness called into question.

Greer has described trans women as men ‘who believe that they are women and have themselves castrated’. Which has the benefit of being factually correct — they’re men, they want to be women, they get castrated — but it’s nonetheless a speech crime to the PC.

She has also mocked the whole idea of transphobia. ‘I didn’t know there was such a thing [as transphobia]. Arachnaphobia, yes. Transphobia, no.’ I love that. Because here Greer is using ‘phobia’ in the proper way — not to pathologise moral viewpoints, as the PC do when they brand criticism of gay marriage as ‘homophobia’ or ridicule of Islam as ‘Islamophobia’, but rather to describe an irrational fear, in this case of spiders. The branding of all sorts of moral and religious views as ‘phobias’ is one of the ugliest, most Orwellian trends of our age, so good on Greer for ripping the Mick out of it (that’s hibernophobia, I know).

But to the self-styled guardians of morality on increasingly loopy campuses, any criticism of transgenderism is tantamount to blasphemy. Alarmingly, Cardiff’s feminist students are running the campaign to shut Greer down. The petition for her lecture to be cancelled was started by the student union women’s officer, who says Greer’s views have ‘no place in feminism’. What a spoilt, ungrateful generation, hilariously unaware that their very ability to speak their minds and rouse some rabble is down to decades of intellectual and social agitation by people like Greer. She helped give them a voice; they try to silence hers.

‘Trans-exclusionary views should have no place in… society’, says the Greerphobic petition. Who died and made the jumped-up Joe Stalins of student bureaucracy into the gods of what can be said? Greer, and anyone else for that matter, should be free to say whatever they want about trans politics, to critique it and even mock it, to argue that it’s pure hocus pocus to claim someone can change his or her sex simply by declaring ‘I have changed my sex’. Blasphemy is a hard-won right, and we should be free to blaspheme against both the old religions and new ones like transmania. We should be as free to doubt the womanhood of Caitlyn Jenner as we are to doubt the divinity of Jesus.

The Cardiff censors say Greer’s ideas are ‘problematic’. That is what the PC say instead of ‘haram’. Well, we need more problematic people. A problem is a question to be answered, an obstacle to be navigated, which is exactly what students ought to be doing. Student bureaucrats’ fear of anything ‘problematic’ sums up how philistine, dogmatic and illiberal they have become.