Transgender rights are not a threat to feminism | Letters

Readers respond to the Guardian’s editorial, a recent letter, and other media coverage of the debate surrounding the consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act

Your leader of 18 October was couched in a language to appear balanced between the views of transgender activists and radical feminists. But it gave credence to the argument that trans women like me are a threat to “real” and biological women in single sex spaces.

Where is the evidence that trans women transition so we can have access to rape centres or prisons in order to commit crimes against women? Where is the evidence that trans women transition to abuse girl guides? All sectors of society contain a criminal element, and I don’t imagine transgender people are different in that respect. But to suggest that making gender self-recognition easier poses a threat to women is not substantiated anywhere in your editorial.

You made no reference to the vulnerability of the trans community. No reference that among us there is a frighteningly high level of bad mental health, with a dreadfully high incidence of attempted suicide, or that we are subjected to hate crimes in the streets and that many have to deal with ostracisation from our families and friends.

I have received wonderful support from a great number of “real” women, and do not believe the views of the radical feminists are representative of their gender.

I greatly regret that the Guardian appears to think people like me can be a threat to the progress of feminism.
Zoë Perry

• As an early-career researcher I was troubled to read this letter (Academics harassed over trans research, 17 October). The authors claim to be concerned with how reform to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) will impact research programmes related to transgender people. The letter raises issues that I believe the authors ought to consider beyond their desire to publish or receive grants.

Proposed changes to the GRA will make it more straightforward for trans people to self-identify without having to go through the invasive process of “proving” their gender identity to authorities. Extensive literature has established the consequences of threats to self-identity. Recent groundbreaking work has shown that transgender children respond to gender identity measures in line with their identified gender, not their natal sex. The idea that these people should then face a burden of proof is deeply upsetting.

I do not think the letter’s authors are unaware of this research, but I believe they have set it aside in favour of self-interest. Academics have a basic duty to design research with empathy for those in our society who are victims of discrimination. We must face the possibility of protest from marginalised groups who disagree with research proposals. It is a fallacy to claim that “disagreement is reasonable” while simultaneously arguing that protest movements are unfair. I agree with the authors that furthering research programmes related to transgender people is important, especially in building an equitable society for people of all gender identities. But I believe this goes hand in hand with challenging antiquated systems for gender recognition in the UK. Researchers ought to work with those who are discriminated against, show empathy, and put others before themselves.
Dr Luke McGuire
Goldsmiths, University of London

• We are the parents of transgender people ranging in age from 11 to 34, concerned at the tone of the current media debate about the transgender identity and the impact it has on our children. It has become frenetic of late because of the government’s (timely and appropriate) consultation on reform to the Gender Recognition Act, specifically on the process by which a transgender person achieves legal recognition of their true gender. One proposed change, which we support, would make that recognition less bureaucratically cumbersome while maintaining important safeguards, including criminal penalty for fraudulent misuse. This is similar to the system which has been operating for years in the Republic of Ireland.

We appreciate the need for open discussion and do not want to stifle a frank exchange of views. However, we know of no other topic in which it is considered acceptable for a minority group, known to be at heightened risk of self-harm and suicide, to be discussed in such insulting terms, including crude references to particular body parts, to be linked to violent sex offences and paedophilia and a risk to women’s safety simply by virtue of being who they are, rather than how they behave. We cannot always protect our children from the internet, from headlines in newspapers or radio broadcasts. We try, of course, but we don’t always succeed, and so we ask those engaging in the debate to please bear in mind that there are human beings, including children, for whom their words are pertinent and who feel this debate very sharply.

We also want to make very clear that neither we nor our children chose the transgender identity. It is a fact, not a choice, albeit one of which we are all very proud.

Finally, some of us signing this letter do so anonymously, because of our children’s fears at being publicly trans – they live their truth quietly. This is at least in part because of the unnecessary hostility this very truth provokes. It is time for that to stop now.
Molly Mulready
C Norfolk
S Irving
Helen Treacy
Elizabeth Leng
K Jarred
M Jarred
Penni Gillen
Parent to trans teen
Ciaran Gillen
Kate G
Douglas Graham
Rev B Thomas

• As a biological woman I’ve followed the debate on the rights of trans women and men with increasing concern. I consider myself fully committed to equality and diversity for all, and believe the only way to achieve this is through respectful communication. To that end, articles on this issue should give a link to the government consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, which closes on 19 October, so that anyone who has a view can make an appropriate contribution to the debate. The link is
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