Friday, 25 May 2018

Let’s Talk About Sex!

by Les May

ON Friday 16 March this year Amy Desir and her friend Hannah joined a ‘men only’ swimming session at Dulwich leisure centre wearing a pair of trunks and pink swimming cap.  They used the men’s changing rooms having told the staff they could join the session because they ‘identified as male’.   When a man asked if she realised it was a men-only night she told him she was a man. His response was ‘Oh really’.   No one was arrested.   No one was kicked out.

You might like to imagine the response if a couple of men had tried to join a ‘women-only’ swimming session at the Leisure centre.   I doubt the headline in the following Monday’s Metro would have been the matched the ‘Feminists set the a-gender at men-only pool session’ which was used for Amy’s exploit.

It was of course a stunt designed to highlight what she called ‘the ridiculous and dangerous move towards self identification’ and a call for women (though seemingly not men) to be consulted about the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

Two days ago Labour suspended David Lewis, who attempted to stand as a candidate to be Basingstoke Labour party’s women’s officer.  He said he had decided to stand for the role, which party rules say can only be held by a woman, in order to draw attention to Labour’s policy of self-definition, where a person is recognised as a woman if they define themselves as such.   His intention was to inform the local party, and maybe some other people, about what this policy means and about what happens when you say that someone’s gender depends only on what they say and nothing else.

Lewis was attacked by James Morton in a long article which appeared in The Guardian. Calling Lewis an ‘anti-trans campaigner’ Morton produced no evidence to substantiate his claim.  Arguing for the seriousness of the process of identifying with a different sex Morton ignores the fact that some self styled ‘trans activists’ insist that ‘gender is fluid’ and thus give credence to Lewis’s flippant comments.

Like Morton Labour seems determined to prevent any discussion about the potential problems of self identification.  Men and women may have very different views about why or if they feel uncomfortable about self identification and should be allowed to air those views without being dismissed as ‘trans-phobic’.  Amy Desir and David Lewis are trying to draw attention to this.

And please don’t tell me that in writing sympathetically about Desir and Lewis I am being ‘trans-phobic’.  As a man I have no greater objection to sharing a potentially intimate space with someone who was once a woman than I have to someone who has always been a man.  But I recognise that some women might feel uncomfortable about sharing such a space with someone who says they are a woman whilst sporting a full set of wedding tackle.  Their feelings should be respected. It is called tolerance.

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