I am a conservative. I believe everyone in society does best when government takes a light touch. I believe in low taxes, less regulation, the rule of law, national sovereignty, strong borders, individual liberty, personal responsibility, meritocracy, tolerance to people’s differences, and traditional family values.
I am also a transsexual woman. But those on the left regard me as a Judas. And they do so because I don’t fit conveniently into their insatiable and pathological need to stereotype everyone. To them, the very notion that a trans woman – because we are “different” and a “minority group” – could be anything other than a Mao-quoting, Che-Guevara-T-shirt-wearing, red-flag-waving socialist is sacrilegious. They call me a traitor. A house tranny. Or, more crudely, a fascist.
And so, coming out as a conservative was an entirely more tumultuous affair for me than coming out as trans. If only there were a chapter in Dale Carnegie’s seminal “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that offered helpful advice on such matters. Two factors, more than any others, that chiseled and honed my conservative worldview were growing up in a post-communist country and taking personal responsibility for making the best of being born in the wrong body.
My childhood was awash with my family’s forlorn recollections about the hardships they endured under communism in Poland: the chronic scarcity of food, medicine and other basic necessities; outright hostility to basic liberties. And if we didn’t like it, too bad: they killed anyone who tried to leave. But throughout Poland’s 44-year communist ordeal, my family stood firm: my great-grandfather was imprisoned twice for distributing pro-capitalism pamphlets and for listening to Radio Free Europe. This instilled in me a powerful respect for the twin virtues of free people and free enterprise.
Even in the earliest years of my childhood, I knew that I was different. Unlike the boys in the neighbourhood who enjoyed roughhousing and kicking around footballs, I spent my time dreaming of one day having a child of my own to nurture and rear. My family thought it was a phase. But it wasn’t. I had what we now know as gender dysphoria: I was a girl born in the wrong body. And I could no more choose to not be a boy than a gay person could choose to be straight. I desperately wished to be normal. But to me, becoming “normal” meant becoming physically female.
My mum and I moved to Denmark when I was nine. By the time I was an adult, the Danish healthcare system provided gender reassignment surgery funded by the taxpayer. But as with all socialised healthcare systems, they rationed access to treatment with interminably long waiting times. I would have had no choice over the surgeon eventually assigned to me or the surgical techniques they would use. Because of my sense of personal responsibility and non-reliance on the state that my family had instilled in me, I felt uncomfortable with the idea that strangers should be forced to pay for my surgery.
So I took matters into my own hands. I found a part-time job while in high school and worked at weekends to earn as much as I could to pay for private surgery. I set myself a savings goal. It required financial sacrifices on my and my mum’s part. But by the time I was 18, I had scrimped and saved enough; after exhaustive research, I chose the surgeon I wanted.
And, then, the day of my surgery arrived. I went into hospital a girl trapped in a male body. I emerged a woman, liberated. I felt resounding joy at finally being made whole. But I also felt immense pride that I had accomplished it by myself. Not just a woman. A self-made woman.
So, whenever I hear self-entitled, Labour-voting millennials shouting “we deserve this”, “you owe us”, “tax the rich”, I can’t help but raise an eyebrow. Because no one deserves anything simply by virtue of being alive. If I could accomplish what I did without reliance on the state, then everybody else is perfectly capable of funding and achieving their life goals too.
One thing that particularly whips up the frothy and indignant ire of some of those on the left is my view that members of the LGBT community are not well-served by any form of special treatment or protection, such as quotas or anti-discrimination and hate-speech legislation. Frankly, such measures are patronising and insulting. No thanks. None of that for me.
I want to succeed – and take pride in my success – because I work hard and exercise good judgment. Not because of a law that requires organisations to hire and promote a certain number of LGBT people, irrespective of merit. If an organisation doesn’t want to associate with me because I’m a transgender woman, well that’s their loss and not mine. I’d much rather focus my energy on working with companies and groups who value me for what I can do and not for who I am. But forcing them by law to associate with me is only going to make them resent trans people, not embrace us. Government can lead by example. But it can’t legislate intolerance away.
Similarly, hate speech laws have the pernicious effect of making others constantly walk on eggshells around trans people, lest they inadvertently say something that could be construed as “offensive”. This makes me – and other trans people in the workplace – a potentially hazardous lawsuit waiting to happen. And that discourages the employment of trans people even further. If someone wants to say ugly things to me because of who I am, then I have every opportunity to try to disabuse them of their narrow-minded views or simply walk away. No harm, no foul. A law that criminalises what they say because of who I am just makes me out to be a helpless victim. And I am nobody’s helpless victim. All I ask for is the same treatment under the law as everyone else. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The irony, of course, is that whereas the Labour party – and its groovy, self-righteous, champagne socialist acolytes – like to tout themselves as tolerant, inclusive and champions of minority rights, it is actually the Conservative party that has pioneered time and time again in terms of providing equality of opportunity and rewarding merit for all. Universal suffrage, full decriminalisation of homosexual acts over the age of consent, and same-sex marriage were all ushered into law under Conservative governments. The Conservative party has had two female prime ministers, one Jewish-born prime minister, two ethnic minority holders of a great office of state, and two female leaders of the Scottish Conservatives. The Labour party has had none. Ever.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party seems intent on reminding us again and again through its appalling record on anti-Semitism that it is “For the Many, Not the Jew”. Labour MPs even attend gender-segregated party rallies and meetings. And while the number of black and ethnic minority members of the government and shadow cabinet should be more proportionate to society at large, one cannot help but wonder – given her litany of car crash interviews and her apparent struggle with basic arithmetic – whether the shadow home secretary is in her role because she is fit for purpose or because of her appearance.
Very clearly, when it comes to matters of equality and inclusion, the Conservative party walks the walk, while the Labour party just talks and talks and talks. And so, if I were a betting woman, my money would be firmly on the Conservative party to have the first ever transsexual MP. Or – who knows – perhaps, one day, the UK’s first ever transsexual prime minister.