The cruelty is the point

This week, SNP MP Joan McAlpine is hosting the Canadian anti-trans activist Meghan Murphy. Murphy, who has been given a lifetime ban from Twitter for the targeted harassment of trans people, says she is not transphobic; she just wants to “ensure the safety of women in places like female prisons, women’s refuges, and changing rooms”. [BBC]

McAlpine says she’s an important voice in the gender recognition debate, even though the so-called debate is over a specific piece of legislation, the Gender Recognition Act, which has nothing to do with the issues McAlpine and her anti-trans pals claim to be concerned about.

As I’ve written endlessly, the Gender Recognition Act is not about access to anything. It’s about paperwork, what the taxman calls us, whether we can get married in our correct gender and whether we get buried with dignity.

Claiming it affects the definition of male and female or who can access what is untrue: both the UK and Scottish governments have said so flatly, but the howling mob refuses to listen.

The legislation that covers “prisons, women’s refuges and changing rooms” is the Equality Act 2010. That act is not under review. It enables same-sex services to exclude trans people if such exclusion is proportionate and necessary; that is not under review either.

McAlpine’s move is a deliberate act of trolling, a move to inject more anger and intolerance into an already overheated and one-sided “debate” that features far too much fiction and far too few facts and which has led to a marked increase in anti-trans sentiment and anti-trans hate crimes across the UK.

Meanwhile in America, the Trump administration plans to introduce exactly the kind of change Murphy and McAlpine want by rolling back an Obama-era protection for trans people.

The Trump administration announced plans Wednesday to let shelters and other recipients of federal housing money discriminate against transgender people by turning them away or placing them alongside others of their birth sex — refusing to let them share facilities with people of the same gender identity.

Critics warn the proposal, which guts protections created during the Obama administration, could put transgender people at a higher risk for homelessness and abuse. The rule would allow shelters to reject transgender applicants entirely or require trans women to share bathing and sleeping facilities with men.

Why does the US need this legislation? Has there been a rash of trans women attacking women since equality legislation was introduced? No. Have men been pretending to be women to attack women in shelters? No.

Are trans kids more likely to be made homeless by family rejection than cisgender kids? Yes. Are trans adults more likely to be made homeless by being fired than cisgender adults? Yes. Does the proposed legislation mean more trans people will be attacked or left to fend for themselves on the streets? Yes.

The people behind the legislation are well aware of this, and they don’t care. The cruelty is the point.

Here’s writer Ashlee Marie Preston.

At 19 I was fired from my job for being trans & became homeless. Women’s shelters rejected me because of my assigned gender at birth. Men’s shelters denied me for reading female. I ended up on the streets & encountered several near death experiences.

This is why the Obama administration introduced protection for trans people. Homelessness is humiliating and dangerous. It’s even more so for trans people.

Preston again:

Trump knows what he’s doing.

He does. This legislation is not the solution to a problem. Or rather, it’s not the solution to anything it purports to be a solution to. It’s designed to address something very different: the protection of transgender people and LGBT people generally.

The Obama administration introduced legislation that made it much more difficult for religious zealots to discriminate against and endanger LGBT people. The Trump administration wants to roll that back, to make America hate again.

This legislation isn’t cruel by accident. The cruelty is the point.