SARAH VINE: No, I am not a person who has a womb. I am a woman
Defending his assertion that ‘it’s not right’ to claim that only a woman can have a cervix, Sir Keir Starmer said that transgender people were among the most ‘marginalised and abused’.
He also said there needs to be ‘a mature, respectful debate about trans rights’, which is, of course, absolutely true. So let’s have one.
Except we can’t, can we? As we have seen from countless Twitter pile-ons and cancellation attempts, there is no such thing as a mature debate around the complex issues of gender identity, for the simple reason that many campaigners refuse to countenance any ‘truth’ other than their own — all, of course, in the name of tolerance.
The second anyone — be it J.K. Rowling or Labour’s own Rosie Duffield MP (whose comments about only women having cervixes were the reason Starmer was asked about it) — says anything that deviates even slightly from the accepted ‘sunshine and rainbows’ narrative, all hell breaks loose.
Defending his assertion that ‘it’s not right’ to claim that only a woman can have a cervix, Sir Keir Starmer said that transgender people were among the most ‘marginalised and abused’
The second anyone — be it J.K. Rowling or Labour’s own Rosie Duffield MP, pictured, (whose comments about only women having cervixes were the reason Starmer was asked about it) — says anything that deviates even slightly from the accepted ‘sunshine and rainbows’ narrative, all hell breaks loose
It’s remarkable how much power this apparently powerless community actually wields: across social media, in schools and universities, in our institutions and policies. With the possible exception of the climate change lobby, I’d say there are now few causes that hold more sway, culturally or politically.
To me, that’s not marginalisation and abuse; that is, as they say in the corridors of Whitehall, ‘uber cut-through’. Indeed, the issue certainly had cut-through at the Labour conference, far more so than any actual policies.
Such was the prominence of the question, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was no greater problem facing the nation.
The spectacle of Labour bigwigs, with or without cervixes, trying to dodge the question was excruciating. On one hand they knew the answer, and knew what the majority of Labour voters think; on the other, they lacked the courage to respond with honesty and candour, for fear of ending up like Ms Duffield and being run out of town.
It’s remarkable how much power this apparently powerless community actually wields: across social media, in schools and universities, in our institutions and policies. If anyone – be it JK Rowling – deviates from the narrative, all hell breaks loose
Thank goodness for Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who at least has the balls to say what he believes. A ‘total denial of scientific fact’ he called Starmer’s comments, for which he has been roundly criticised, not least because his view apparently contradicts NHS advice on screening, which says ‘trans men who still have a cervix should have cervical screening to help prevent cervical cancer’.
But what he said is right. Trans men who still have a cervix remain, at least in that one biological respect, female. That is a scientific fact.
He also contradicts the sentiment printed on the front cover of the latest issue of medical journal The Lancet. Trailing an article about menstruation, the term ‘bodies with vaginas’ was used in lieu of the word ‘women’, leading a number of respected academics to call it ‘insulting and abusive’.
Editor Richard Horton has apologised for conveying the impression that ‘we have de-humanised and marginalised women’.
And that, really, goes to the heart of this whole debate. In striving to help one group, we have somehow ended up diminishing the rights and identities of another, much larger group, that is to say women.
It now feels as though not only are our safe spaces being eroded, but also our fundamental right to exist. I wouldn’t for one second deny that trans people have suffered disproportionately and unfairly from discrimination and abuse. Nor would I want them to live anything other than happy, healthy, fulfilled lives.
But what I and a lot of others simply can’t understand is why this needs to happen at the expense of women’s identities.
Whoever you are and whatever you want to be, that’s up to you. I would never judge anyone. But I am, and want to continue to be called, a woman. Not a person with a womb or any of the many other absurd and reductive euphemisms used to deny females their identity.
Is that really such a problem?
The trial of R. Kelly, who was convicted of sex-trafficking and racketeering, has exposed the sordid underbelly of the music industry in much the same way Harvey Weinstein’s case did for film.
Except music is much worse, and Kelly is emblematic of a business that routinely treats women as commodities.
That’s why I can never understand the behaviour of female rap stars like Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B, who debase themselves on stage and in their lyrics in the kind of way that only reinforces the porn-inspired tropes about women which encourage abusers like Kelly.
Meghan’s very Big Apple clothing bill
Even discounting the jewellery, that’s one hell of a bill for a succession of outfits which were not only less than flattering (I honestly think she would have done better at M&S), but also seemed entirely unsuited to the circumstances (not to mention the weather). Pictured: The Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry in New York
Can it really be true that the Duchess of Sussex’s New York wardrobe was worth something in the region of £60,000?
Even discounting the jewellery, that’s one hell of a bill for a succession of outfits which were not only less than flattering (I honestly think she would have done better at M&S), but also seemed entirely unsuited to the circumstances (not to mention the weather).
As one New Yorker friend of mine put it: ‘Who shows up at a school in Harlem where more than 90 per cent of the pupils are on free school meals, in an outfit costing £5,000?’ I could not have put it better myself.
Given that the Insulate Britain lot are the usual suspects who keep turning up, why can’t the authorities just cut to the chase and glue them to a police cell before they even get near a motorway?
That way they still get the publicity they crave, and the rest of the country gets to go about its business as normal. Whatever ‘normal’ is these days.
Here’s one for all the frustrated bosses whose employees won’t come back to the office: neuroscientists at University College London say commuting is actually good for you.
It ‘delineates boundaries between home and work life… and can have a positive impact on cognitive performance, wellbeing and productivity’.
Maybe Sarah Healey, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport should be told.
She wants civil servants to WFH three days a week so they, like her, can seemingly spend more time overseeing home improvements and exercising on Peloton bikes. Nice work if you can get it. And partly why the UK is in such a shambles.
Lila’s not lying low any longer
This week Lila Moss stepped into her own limelight after she walked the Versace x Fendi runway with a clearly visible insulin pump on her thigh (she has type 1 diabetes)
Lila Moss, Kate Moss’s daughter, is by all accounts a charming girl. It can’t be easy growing up in the shadow of such a famous mother.
But this week she stepped into her own limelight after she walked the Versace x Fendi runway with a clearly visible insulin pump on her thigh (she has type 1 diabetes).
For once a ‘child of’ who’s doing more than just riding on their famous parent’s coat-tails — and providing some inspiration of their own.
There’s a very small and probably very wicked part of me that can’t help wondering if the chaos at the pumps is not, in some small part, engineered to make us want to rush out and buy electric cars.
After all, the UN climate change summit, COP26, to be held in Glasgow, is just around the corner. Wouldn’t a spike in electric car sales be awfully convenient?
What an Instasham
A couple of weeks ago, a leaked internal report from Instagram confirmed what any parent of teenagers already knows, that the platform has contributed in no small part to the rise of depression and eating disorders among young people.
Research commissioned by its parent company, Facebook, found 32 per cent of teenage girls said Instagram had made them feel worse about body image issues. Now the technology giant has fought back, claiming that its research also shows it actually makes teenage girls feel better on 11 out of 12 ‘wellbeing issues’. Right.
Honestly, not since tobacco companies began marketing cigarettes to women as an aid to weight loss in the 1920s has a company so shamelessly played on the insecurities of the vulnerable for profit.
How times change: Tatler has ruled that it’s now acceptable to use the word ‘toilet’ instead of ‘loo’.
Other formerly non-U things now apparently include Pizza Express — which must be a relief for that crashing snob Prince Andrew.
How times change: Tatler has ruled that it’s now acceptable to use the word ‘toilet’ instead of ‘loo’. Other formerly non-U things now apparently include Pizza Express — which must be a relief for that crashing snob Prince Andrew
One of the more depressing aspects of panic buying — apart from the obvious practical inconveniences — is the way it exposes the worst of human nature.
Selfish individuals — like that woman who emptied two bottles of mineral water and then filled them up with fuel at a petrol station in Surrey — who think their lives are so much more important than everyone else’s. Yes, there is an issue with supply, but it’s morons like her who turn a problem into a crisis.
Professor Roy Taylor, of Newcastle University, says that if you can’t fit into the same trousers you were wearing aged 21, you are at risk of diabetes. So, can you? In my case, I’m afraid there’s a two-letter answer to that one.
Or, maybe it’s a less polite four.
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