Monday, December 23, 2019

Terf or trans?

Maya Forstater
Maya Forstater is a feminist who believes a man cannot be a woman. For uttering this thought on social media she was fired from her job. An employment tribunal in the UK upheld her dismissal. The judge found that holding to the idea that a man cannot be a woman violated the dignity of transsexuals and was "not worthy of respect in a democratic society".

Now, I'm sure that most traditionalists will be appalled by the case. The assertion of a basic aspect of reality is being declared by the courts to be "not worthy of respect" and therefore not a protected belief. It is a sign of our disordered times.

I'm sure, too, we can agree with Maya Forstater when she declares:
I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case.

My belief … is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone.

… This judgment removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech. It gives judicial licence for women and men who speak up for objective truth and clear debate to be subject to aggression, bullying, no-platforming and economic punishment.

So do traditionalists stand with Maya? Well, yes and no. I have no doubt we would support her in speaking up for objective truth when it comes to the issue of sex being an immutable, biological fact.

But things are not as straightforward as they might seem. After all, feminists like Maya Forstater also push their own version of unreality.

Both the "terfs" (feminists like Maya Forstater who believe that sex is immutable) and "trans" have a common philosophical starting point. Both believe that we should be subject only to what we ourselves determine as individuals.

But they have a different take on this liberal principle. For feminists, the unchosen fact of sex, of being male or female, exists as a biological reality, but it is to be made not to matter. Feminists achieve this by separating out sex and "gender". Feminists declare that our sex is real, but that masculinity and femininity are mere social constructs, based negatively on an attempt by men to oppress and exploit women. Therefore, the aim is to deconstruct the distinctions between men and women, so that there is something like an equality of sameness.

Transsexuals also separate out sex and "gender". But their take on this is different. They believe that gender is innate but is not connected to our biological sex. Therefore, I can identify as a woman even if I am, as a matter of human biology, a man.

If you look at this dispassionately, is the feminist idea any less radical or any less damaging than the transsexual one? Both are based on the idea that you can separate out sex and "gender". (There is an argument to be made that feminists, in separating the two, paved the way for transsexualism.)

Maya Forstater spoke at a feminist conference in May of this year and said:
I think the position that women exist as a sex is something like gravity. That's going to be held by people across the political spectrum. I think it's important to make the distinction between people who say men should be men and women should be women meaning that sex is innate and is linked to masculinity and all the gender stereotypes we are trying to fight against and the position that says that sex is innate and that gender is something that is imposed on us.

She declares that women exist as a sex but denies that there is any meaning to being a man or a woman as "gender is something that is imposed on us". Sex exists but is wholly irrelevant to who we are is the feminist mantra. This separating out of sex and "gender" is a radical denial of sexual reality, just as is the transsexual claim that we can be a woman if we are a man.

If we accept the feminist view we are forced to live a lie just as much as if we are forced to address a man as "ma'am". Let me give just one example of this. Every year at my workplace we have a lunch before the Christmas holidays where we farewell people who are leaving. By the end of this I am always struck by how different women are to men. When a woman steps up to give the farewell speech for another woman, she is already struggling. She starts to fan her eyes to try to stop the tears, she tries not to look at her friend who is leaving, her voice starts to fail her, she stops to try to compose herself, but fails and the tears begin. She is handed tissues, she starts again, now her colleague is also crying, then other women in the audience. One year the whole process had to be abandoned because of the emotional scenes. I just sit there in wonderment, not thinking badly of women (it's touching in a way), but struck by how different the interior life of a woman must be to that of a man.

But Maya Forstater wants me to think that no such differences exist and that what I am observing is just "gender" that is "imposed on us" and that has nothing to do with our existence as men and women.

I think we have to call out the lack of commonsense in both the feminist and the trans positions. And we have to recognise that both are engaged in a common project of separating out sex and "gender" - a project that we as traditionalists very firmly reject.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.


  1. I don't welcome the trend, but the next decade points towards a realignment of so-called "terfs" towards the political right. A large number of Millennial women will not be married at 40, and therefore unlikely to ever marry. I predict that these women will display an anger at both feminism, and towards men.

    Right-liberals, I predict, will eagerly welcome this trend, as much for its nominal Neo-Victorianism than for their notional fiscal conservatism.

    While it is quaint to imagine that these feminists would complete a full circle turn to traditionalism, there are reason why I don't see this future as a positive one. They aren't going to accept that it was themselves that caused the issue, they will blame (beta) men.

  2. In our times the Right is currently undergoing a struggle that will see itself either defined as a populist movement with some attachments to national sovereignty; or to being a globalist movement with domination by capital.

    The left is undergoing a similar realignment. Anti-White identity politics cannot coexist permanently with a party dependent on the votes of middle class white women. The rise of Woke is an attempt to keep this coalition from falling apart. Trans are useful not in numbers, of which they are few, but as an acid test to keep women in line.

    1. Anti-White identity politics cannot coexist permanently with a party dependent on the votes of middle class white women.

      Good point. This is a potential fracture line on the left. I have to say, though, that at the moment here in Melbourne the middle class white women are still happy to engage in an anti-white identity politics.

  3. If readers here are of the thick skinned type, I'd invite them to browse this growing reddit community.

    The values expressed here may provide an insight into infighting within the feminist camp, and the likely direction that western feminism realigns to in the 2020s.

    The ideology here is against the grain of "sex-positive feminism", promoting waiting in relationships, and condemning many sexual acts as degrading. They condemn porn, and blame it as the source of male failure.

    Unusually for a feminist movement, they promote marriage as an ideal, with the sort of "high value male" or a Woke Alpha. Men are under an obligation to help women "have it all", but if this woke alpha isn't around then it is viewed as better to be single. Some posters appear to idealize lesbianism, but have no attraction to women. Conversely, bisexual men are condemned.

    Most atypically for an ostensibly left wing movement, they describe their actions in eugenic terms. They especially despise older men that pursue younger women, and tend to condemn white men that pursue non-white women as a "fetish".

    Economic issues, despite their leading tag being for men to "always pay on dates", aren't really their forte. There is not much condemnation of consumerism, indeed some actually praise it. Elsewhere there is a regurgitation of older tropes about "domestic and emotional labor".

    So I expect the National Review to start praising them sometime next year.

    1. I read it. It's more trashing of the culture. These women want men to commit to them in a traditional way, whilst pursuing selfish and non-traditional lifestyles themselves. They want men to be "high value" but then they set out terms for modern relationships in which men are clearly subordinate, a role which a high functioning masculine personality would never accept - a role most suited to men who are desperate.

      A lot of the advice is like a "who will break first" or "who will walk away first" scenario. The women are banking on men being so desperate that they will cave in to whatever the woman wants - which seems to involve a long list of criteria to ensure the man is domesticated to female specifications, whilst still being successful in the world of business and careers.

      It makes me wonder if these women would really be sexually attracted to men who would accept such a clearly subordinate role. They seem to be women who are frustrated that they can't find men who will fulfil the "beta" side of things, i.e. who will provide money and domestic work in return for limited sexual access.

      It seems to me to be a recipe for men and women walking away from each other.

      What's happening in corners of the right is more promising. There is a principled rejection of feminism and its effects on relationships. There are women who are signalling that they don't want to see men as the enemy; that there should be a loyalty to men who are their husbands, sons, brothers and fathers; that a commitment to family should come before a commitment to a corporation; that family law has undermined trust between men and women; and that women need to restrain aspects of their natures for the benefit of marriage and family.

      That approach is far more likely to bring back a family guy ethos among men.

    2. Long-winded response to your comment, I know, but I did find the reddit group interesting. It seems that there aren't enough "beta" men to go around now, particularly for feminist women seeking marriage/children.

      But what these women are doing is to double down, by insisting on an even more unappealing "beta" dynamic to marital relationships - the one that men are already rejecting.

      If you read the "philosophy of our reddit group" posts carefully, these women aren't necessarily rejecting sexual promiscuity for themselves. They may be making husband material wait, but the advice is to lie to such men about their count. If the future husband is upset about the lack of sex in the relationship, the advice is to hold firm, but later on to negotiate, on the wife's terms, what is permissible to hold things together (the marital "drip").

      There is precious little discussion about marital love; the focus is more on how he should be pandering to her wants/needs, which are set at an extraordinarily detailed level of expectation. Nor are these acts to be reciprocated - she deserves them on the basis that she is the "queen" (there is an admission that he might want her to be classy - but the language on the reddit is anything but).

      The larger problem is that the alpha dynamic is now associated with players and the beta with husbands. Instead of intensifying the beta role of husbands, the sounder approach would be to inject more alpha into it. This can be done by strengthening the legal and economic position of husbands and also by taking back some ground in the culture war.

    3. There are different ways of describing the "alpha/beta" complex, some include more greek letters. Your method is more about behavioral choice, while I describe the two as more immutable physical/mental characteristics.

      The open acceptance of lying to men is perhaps there most disturbing idea, but isn't that uncommon in the mainstream feminists they are trying to split from.

      I don't associate "alpha" with male promiscuity. To explain, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney is an alpha, even though he's generally perceived as a devout Mormon that has only been with his wife. A fat and ugly man that has consorted with dozens of prostitutes is beta.

      We can describe this as a "Blue Pilled Alpha", and we could describe the plump john as a "Red Pilled Beta".

      FDS want's neither, as neither the Romney or Trump alpha archetype is in high supply, and both are considered stifling to "having it all". Many of the frequent posters on that forum claim to have postgraduate education.

      I describe their demands as a "Woke Alpha" because they reject the "Woke Beta" as a low value man or "NiceGuy".


      It would be a major sea change to increase the legal power of husbands, as it runs against the demographic headwinds of industrial societies. Women live longer, which gives the electorate a female bias. So a "pro-male" policy needs the support of a bloc of women.

      I don't think this bloc will emerge among young women that want to get married, rather that it will emerge among regretful older women with a dual motivation. Helping younger women get married, but restricting the sexual market for older/divorced men.

  4. Transgenderism is only possible because motherhood is no longer a culturally enforced norm. Feminists have worked hard to disconnect motherhood from womanhood so that women are not appreciated only as "baby machines," but for qualities they foster in self-assigned roles. Trouble is, these extra-maternal activities can be performed by men in dresses.

    If it was shameful for women not to give primacy to motherhood, then few if any men would transition into women because men cannot conceive children and adoption would make transitioning doubly burdensome. Trans women would be confronted by people demanding to know why they weren't nursing babies and the only way around their physical limitations would be to adopt someone else's kids. In this context, transitioning wouldn't mean prancing around in women's clothes and other superficial displays of femininity. It would mean raising children and men wouldn't be keen to do that.

    TERFs are like the conservative defenders of traditional marriage against gay marriage before it was legally recognized in the West. Since marriage had been divorced from its religious context, the only way to exclude gays from the enterprise was to legally define marriage as a heterosexual pairing but that project was doomed to failure because the notion that marriage is heterosexual in nature didn't have cultural clout. Marriage had long ceased being an institution for family creation but a way for a couple to consecrate their "love" and "commitment" for each other. Obviously homosexuals could do this too, thus the writing was on the wall.

    In the same way, feminists want to disqualify trans women because they don't have lady parts. But thanks to the efforts of feminists, motherhood is now seen as an afterthought to a woman's destiny. Thus all the TERF position comes down to is "men have penises, girls have vaginas," but those are just different holes to piss out of. If a woman who chooses not to use her parts for reproduction hasn't compromised her womanhood - and this is just what feminists have petitioned everybody to accept - then she's no different from a man in a dress.

    The solution to transgenderism is to reject feminism in its entirety beginning with the idea that womanhood is self-determined and essentially separate from motherhood.

    1. I think you are missing the forest for the trees.

      The reason gay marriage succeeded as a cause was mainly thanks to high divorce levels. Any elite (and many are) that was divorced was easily portrayed as a hypocrite.

      With marriage devalued, it was seen as no big deal that gays could get married.

      Social conservatives have also been highly reluctant to "de-norm" gays, as it opens up the charge of bigotry from which there is no escape in polite society.

      There's a parallel where pro-life movements have lauded single mothers as heroic, as to disincentivize abortion. They don't want to promote a narrative of sexual restraint, which gets laughed out.

      Going full circle, lionizing single mothers further devalues marriage, leading to the socon rout.