Opinion by Paul
Last week Channel 4 had an opportunity to help convey some much needed truth and honesty to a largely uninformed public regarding the minefield that is the so-called ‘Gender debate’, but they failed miserably. The sad reality is that rather than the fair, balanced representation they had promised to those trans and non-binary who had agreed in good faith to participate, the producers chose to turn this into the Kathleen Stock show, and without their knowledge.
The very fact that Stock’s image is used to promote the show whilst calling it ‘Gender Wars’ frames the very nature of the hostility that was to be portrayed and who was their chosen victim within this ‘war’ (note that I refuse to use her image in this article but prefer to highlight the protest made at her recent Oxford talk). There was continual footage included of protests from ‘trans activists’, so clearly portraying them as the aggressors (and with a notable absence of any reference to neo-Nazi attendance at recent Gender Critical events, nor the tragic murder of trans girl, Brianna Ghey), whilst in contrast we were treated to multiple slow motion images of Stock strolling pensively through the countryside, or looking soberly and thoughtfully into the distance out of a train window.
Stock was the show’s key subject being portrayed as the face and voice of reason, fighting a ‘brave’ crusade. Throughout, Stock was portrayed by Channel 4 as a victim suffering from an unjustified, hateful and threatening backlash for simply standing up for a supposedly noble cause. The main focus throughout was to highlight the current right-wing rally call of a need for ‘Freedom of Speech’ without any warning of the need to prevent this empowering a ‘Freedom to hate’.
The issue is not that she holds certain views, as everyone is entitled to hold their views, but the fact that these views were just taken on face value with no any attempt to question the validity of anything she has stated to explain exactly why she is perceived by the overwhelming majority of the trans community as being transphobic.
Stock recalled how she knew her life would change the moment she first hit that send button to publish her views publicly – but let’s not forget this was her choice, and still remains her choice, yet she acts as if everything that followed has somehow been forced upon her.
The show made reference to a 2021 LBC Radio interview with Iain Dale, which is where I first heard Stock set out all her reasons for being “compelled” to enter this debate. She explained it was due to the GRA ReformGRA Reform Gender Recognition Reform Bill - Scotland https://www.gov.scot/news/gender-recognition-reform-bill/ Published 03 March 2022 09:34 Part of Equality and rights Simplifying how trans people apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. See Also https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/mermaids-manifesto-for-gra-reform/ https://www.stonewall.org.uk/what-does-uk-government-announcement-gender-recognition-act-mean that the Tory Government, then under the leadership of Theresa May, were proposing. But ‘Gender Wars’ did not give any voice to anyone to delve into the core reasons given for her involvement and therefore the chance to expose that all her claims were in fact based on misinformation – for my own full in-depth breakdown of this interview you can click here.
In the LBC interview Stock claimed that the Government was proposing to make highly damaging changes to the Equality Act that would have a dramatic and catastrophic impact on women’s rights. However, in the Government’s own publicly posted GRA Consultation papers, they clearly stated (in three separate places) that there was to be NO change to the Equality Act – (page 2 “To be clear – this consultation focuses on the Gender Recognition Act; we are not proposing to amend the Equality Act 2010” )
So right from the start, the danger Stock was claiming was clearly not true.
Stock claimed that as a result of GRA Reform, it would mean that ‘overnight’ any man could suddenly claim to be female and would be legally protected as a woman, giving them ‘new’ rights to enter unopposed into any women’s single sex spaces, and there was nothing anyone could now do to stop them. But again, this is simply not correct.
GRA Reform would have made no such changes, as since the Equality Act 2010 came into law, any predatory cisgender man could already abuse the law in this way which already provides this level of protection for trans people. The Act states that trans men and women have lawful protection to be accepted as their chosen Gender ID at any stage of their transition. This legal protection doesn’t therefore require any medical procedure or hormone treatment, it exists at any stage of transition, so from the very first second.
What GC’s claim as the impending doom of GRA Self ID has already been law since 2010 and if a cisgender man had wanted to claim to be trans, under current law they already could. With 13 years since this came into law, the 2010 Equality Act has proven that this simply doesn’t happen as sexual predators do not abuse rights under this Act to offend. So regardless of any claim that this ‘might’ happen, it clearly hasn’t, but for Stock to claim that the proposed GRA Reform was suddenly making this possible by introducing a ‘new’ law was totally false and blatant scaremongering designed purely to frighten cisgender women. And it has clearly worked.
But if GRA Reform would have no impact or change to the use of Gender Assigned Spaces, it is important to understand exactly what GRA Reform would enable. GRA enables someone to obtain a GRC which can legally change the sex marker on a birth certificate, and note, this law is already in place. This Reform was simply being sought to make the process simpler and more humane for trans people as the process was too restrictive, lengthy, costly and demeaning.
And once a trans woman does change her birth certificate what would this allow? Remember, according to Stock this would somehow have a dramatic impact on the use of women’s spaces allowing any man access …. and it would also result in the destruction of women’s sport. No surprise that both claims are simply not true.
The only additional benefit of having a revised birth certificate with your preferred (true) sex marker would simply enable someone trans to either marry or be buried in their true identity, plus it would also have some minor tax and pension implications – and that is it, as this is all we use a birth certificate for.
We do not need or use a Birth Certificate to gain access to any spaces or services and there isn’t a single elite sport where having a female birth certificate will give automatic qualification, so this change will not assist anyone in sport.
So the truth is that GRA Reform has no impact on female spaces, female services or female sport.
As already stated, the Government made it clear at the onset that the Equality Act was not changing, so the rights to the use of single sex spaces and the EA10 Exemptions (where it is possible to lawfully exclude) were protected and not changing.
As we were constantly reminded during the show, Kathleen Stock is regarded as an academic and ‘a respected professor’, so to think she had not checked or still does not know these facts since first making her false statements is truly baffling and very concerning.
So this now brings us nicely onto Channel 4’s ‘Gender Wars’ and to Stock’s opening statement :
“The level of toxicity now and misinformation out there is just huge – we didn’t have to be here, but we are’
And she is right. The level of misinformation is huge and we genuinely didn’t have to be here – but one reason we are here is because of the clear misinformation that Stock herself is still platforming.
To appear reasonable and understanding, Stock always claims “I think trans people should be protected under the Equality Act” but in what way? She openly states that “trans women are not women” and even stated she believed that a trans woman “does not have to insist to herself she’s a woman” as if this is a simple choice like deciding what music to listen to.
This basic statement exposes her total lack of understanding or appreciation for being trans. Channel 4 did at least give some brief examples of those who had been through this process, which is never a decision taken lightly but described as part of a long and painful journey that required serious soul searching, often having serious impacts on mental health if trying to deny their reality. We heard how this resulted in attempts at suicide and failed attempts at Conversion Therapy, which is widely acknowledged as being akin to torture.
Professor Stephen Whittle gave us a brief insight into the fight he went through in the 70’s & 80’s to win the rights that trans people today have in place, and as he correctly stated “no one is going to be able to turn back that tide and pretend we don’t exist” even though that is precisely what the likes of Stock and Julie Bindle are clearly campaigning so forcefully for.
One of the most heinous tactics used by those Gender Critical is to link male violence and male crimes to trans women, and last night Channel 4 were fully complicit in this hateful act, which included their reference, and therefore link, to the horrific murder of Sarah Everard.
Using male crimes that are committed by cisgender men, and to claim that this be a justifiable ‘safeguarding’ issue is disgraceful. Should we seek racial segregation based on crime statistics? Of course not. There was some recognition that not every man is a sexual predator, but still a belief it was totally justifiable to exclude the whole community of people simply because ‘some might offend’.
In the 2021 LBC interview, Stock was challenged on this – she stated that “The logic of this suggests that when we’ve got safeguarding measures that when it doesn’t eradicate ALL possible sources of violence against women then we mustn’t have it, and that is not how safeguarding works. Excluding males from women-only spaces is a start but it’s not going to solve every problem….. It’s going to reduce the risk which is what safeguarding does.”
If this were true, this should then also apply for anyone with a fear of being attacked in a toilet or changing room by anyone who is gay. Not all lesbians are sexual predators but surely Stock would see the identical reasoning of this argument. But when asked why she doesn’t apply her safeguarding ‘logic’ to lesbians, her response was that we can always tell who is gay (I’m not sure what difference that makes even if it were true) and finally stated “Well I’m a Lesbian so I wouldn’t be able to use changing rooms.” So according to Stock, this level of safeguarding should only apply when it impacts on other groups and not those that include her!
Then there was further disgraceful presentation from Channel 4 who chose to spread more misinformation regarding the ‘double rapist’ Isla Bryson in Scotland. They claimed Bryson was “briefly housed in a women’s prison before being moved after a public outcry.” However the facts are that the Scottish prison worked fully within the legal framework of the Equality Act 2010 and their right to apply the exemptions where they retain power to discriminate if they apply ‘a proportionate means to achieve a legitimate aim’.
This Exemption ensures that every UK Prison can undertake case-by-case assessments of any trans-identified prisoner to decide where the safest placement will be, based on any perceived danger to other prisoners and also to the prisoner themselves. But what Channel 4 failed to state was that whilst this process was undertaken, Bryson was held in secure isolation. So the fact this was in a women’s prison is of no consequence whatsoever as Bryson was held in total isolation throughout the entire and quick assessment process, so there was clearly no threat or danger to any women prisoners.
Upon conclusion of the assessment, a dangerous prisoner was rightly moved to a prison where they could (still) not be a threat to any female prisoners. This action was therefore NOT the result of a ‘public outcry’. It was in fact a perfect example of the existing protections (exemptions) within the Equality Act working precisely as it should. And yet Channel 4 totally misrepresented this.
Dr Finn McKay was given (albeit a very brief) inclusion to rightly state that violent cis men do not need to pretend to be trans to commit crimes, and Channel 4 alluded to the fact that “the legal right to Self-ID has been introduced in several counties”. But they failed to paint the full picture that this has been adopted in over 15 countries, including Ireland, and that during the Scottish Reform process it was reported by the Scottish Government that those objecting to Reform had been unable to produce even one single piece of evidence that its introduction had had any adverse impact on women’s safety in any country where ‘Self ID’ had been successfully introduced.
Furthermore, the total nonsense of Kathleen Stock’s position was exposed in one staggering ‘Gender Wars’ statement that in fact supports a key reason that we constantly make for not making the changes she campaigns for.
Stock stated – “If you look like a hulking bloke can you go into the ladies? I would say ‘No’ because that allows any hulking great bloke to go into the ladies’
If the likes of Stock & Bindle get their wish and trans women are legally excluded from female toilets, then in the same way, trans men would also be banned from using men’s toilets and forced to use the female facilities. As those watching ‘Gender Wars’ will have seen first-hand, trans men with full beards are totally indistinguishable from cisgender men, and yet Stock is campaigning that they should be using women’s facilities whilst clearly pointing out the danger if that were to happen!
As stated, to insist that trans men are forced to use women’s facilities clearly would enable cisgender predatory men the ability to just walk into any female toilet or changing room as no one would be able to know if they were trans men, exactly as Stock had stated: “that allows any hulking great bloke to go into the ladies”
The reality is that if women’s safety was truly their concern, then logically there should be no move to change the current laws that would result in an increased risk to women.
But this went even further, as later in the show she also commented on her personal choice to dress like a man and to have a men’s haircut, and as a result she is often mistaken for a man. So in her own words, if she herself acknowledges she looks like and is mistaken for a man, and those looking like men shouldn’t use female toilets, then Stock is advocating that she shouldn’t use female toilets!
To expect this could be managed if there are third spaces is totally impractical. The cost alone to introduce third spaces in every building throughout the UK would be simply astronomical, if not impossible, and how this could be justified for just 0.5% of the population is beyond me. It is also expecting trans men and women to publicly out themselves every time they need to pee, with no regard whatsoever for their safety and what that would do to their mental health.
The Gender Wars did (too briefly) highlight a meeting of Katy Jon Went and Linda Bellos and showed how respectful discussion and debate is possible, even with those from opposing sides of the debate. The key is that both sides need to enter the debate in good faith. If one side is basing their whole position on lies and misinformation and with a clear agenda to remove an entire group from having any kind of meaningful life, then the toxicity they are responsible for will continue.
Moshe Dayan, the Israeli military leader and politician, once famously stated “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” And this is a principle that we at TransLucent hold close to our hearts, as we believe that respectful good faith talk is so important to be able to cut through all the toxicity. But Channel 4 chose to platform Stock who demonstrated no interest in speaking in good faith.
This is an incredibly scary time for trans people in the UK with the current Tory Government, eagerly aided by our own Equalities and Human Rights Commission, openly engaging in efforts to remove trans rights by taking away every protection that currently exists within the Equality Act, and this programme has done nothing to help. It is hardly surprising that all those involved on the trans side are up in arms over the betrayal by Channel 4 who failed to reveal the true nature of a show that was to include and feature Kathleen Stock in this way.
Kathleen Stock claims she is not transphobic, and stated “I think trans people should be protected under the Equality Act” but how can that honestly be true if you are insisting that trans women are men and should not be permitted to live their life using any women’s facilities. If that isn’t the basic element of non-acceptance, i.e. transphobia, then I really can’t think what transphobia could possibly mean?
When Stock states “When I came out (as lesbian) I felt so much power – I felt like a different person”, how can she then morally deny others this same feeling of living their true life? There are still those that believe homosexuality a sin and a sexual perversion against the will of God, and actively seek to have gay rights removed, and I’m sure Stock would fight just as hard if faced with this as those now fighting to protect trans rights.
This position was really well stated on Twitter by Billy Bragg, who is a true trans ally. Billy observed that “a law was passed in Uganda yesterday making homosexuality a crime punishable by death. The justification for such draconian measures is that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic – the reason Stock gives for believing trans women cannot be women.“
Julie Bindle asked the question “What does living as a woman mean anymore?” Well it means what it always has; it means just living as you are. It means not wasting your life worrying about others that simply want to be free to live their life as free and fulfilled as Stock now does. It means just being who you are, a (cisgender) woman and understanding that nothing that trans women do in their lives will ever have any impact on who you are.
Stock claims that she does not want to inflict any harm on trans people, but refuses to acknowledge her actions will do precisely that. We saw one brief example given by Dr Gina Gwenffrewi unable to face the risk and personal danger of using a public toilet. This resulted in her cutting short her evening, going home to use the toilet in the safety of her own home. This was brushed over, appearing little more than an inconvenience. However there is a far more sinister side to this. During my own experience of attending a Gender Clinic with my own trans daughter, she was asked whether she knew the law regarding her lawful right, as a trans women, to use female public toilets and the importance of this, as they saw so many trans women that had inflicted serious internal damage to themselves as a result of never feeling safe or able to use public facilities when away from home. They also referred to trans women who were literally housebound, too afraid to leave their own homes. This is the reality of excluding trans women from toilets and from society. It inflicts real harm to real people and it ruins lives. It is not a mere inconvenience; it is literally life changing and life threatening. It does cause great harm, and for what genuine reason?
Stock even stated “I feel relaxed about what happened, and think there are ways in which you can say I’ve gained a new life which I enjoy through it” So whilst trans people’s lives are under genuine threat of being completely destroyed by a Government openly intent on making changes to the Equality Act to remove all trans rights and protections, Stock freely admits how her life has personally benefited whilst she ‘enjoys’ what has become a celebrity lifestyle on the back of trans people. She can hardly claim to have been ‘cancelled’. And yet Stock was portrayed by Channel 4 as the victim, as opposed to trans people who are today subjected to ever increasing levels of hate crime purely as a result of the rhetoric and misinformation spread by the likes of Stock (“Hate crimes reach record high as offences against transgender people double” )
Last week was a truly wasted opportunity to have delivered a clearer understanding to the viewing UK public, but Channel 4 chose to trick the trans and non-binary participants into appearing in the Kathleen Stock appreciation show. Professor Steven Whittle has stated “Absolutely, it is a Kathleen Stock rehab show. This is not about us. We are there without any context to anything that we say. All it is is Kathleen Stock being a victim all the way through.”
Stock says she simply has no way of changing anyone’s perception of her being transphobic. Well that’s also not strictly true. All she has to do is stick to true facts and stop trying to remove trans rights for no genuine reason. Trans people have as much choice over being trans as Stock has in being lesbian, and I would no more support Conversion Therapy for Stock than I would for trans people. But the pushing of transphobic beliefs is very much a choice. This is the life Stock has clearly chosen and it is a life of being ‘cancelled’ in plain sight. It has become her career and whenever anyone questions what she stands for she always ‘suggests’ you buy her book.
The Gender Wars have become Stock’s life, her job. And whilst Kathleen Stock continues her crusade, the plea from the trans community is “Let’s just all get on with our lives” – Channel 4 have played their part in ensuring they cannot.