The battle over gender has turned bloody Janice Turner in The Times 16.03.20

The original article is here.

When is it OK to punch a woman? I’ve pondered this question since Wednesday evening when I watched a 60-year-old in specs and sensible shoes called Maria being smacked in the face. Yet I learn from her assailant’s defenders that it’s fine. Punch harder next time, guys! Because “acts of physical violence against those who are systemically violent are self-defence”.

I was at Speakers’ Corner waiting, along with about 80 others, to learn the secret location of a meeting entitled, “What is gender? The Gender Recognition Act [GRA] and beyond”. It was all very cloak and dagger because the original venue, a south London community centre, had cancelled the previous day on health and safety grounds. Which is one way of saying “trans rights activists harangued our staff and threatened, via various Facebook groups, to cause havoc if it went ahead”. Then, hearing of the Hyde Park rendezvous, they rang every conceivable venue within a mile radius to promise mayhem. Having failed to find it, about 15 of them arrived at Speakers’ Corner with placards saying “TERFs not welcome.”

TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. But lately the definition has expanded to include any woman worried that permitting men who “self-identify” as female to enter women’s changing rooms or refuges unchallenged makes her less safe. Which is exactly what will happen if reform of the GRA, as championed by Maria Miller, who chairs the Commons women and equalities committee, goes ahead this autumn.

TERFs, according to trans activists, are evil. TERF is the new witch. Search on Twitter for “TERFs must die” or “burn in a fire, TERF” and behold a cauldron of violent vitriol. Before the meeting, a trans-woman posted: “Any idea where this is happening? I want to f*** some TERFs up, they are no better than fash [fascists].” Search “punch a TERF” and you will find crowing approval of what happened to Maria.

So at Speakers’ Corner trans activists and feminists were chanting and taunting each other. Maria was taking photographs when an opponent grappled with her, snatched her camera and smashed it on the ground. Then a tall, male-bodied, hooded figure wearing make-up rushed over, hit her several times and as police arrived, ran away. I asked a young activist if she was OK with men smacking women: “It’s not a guy, you’re a piece of s*** and I’m happy they hit her”, came the reply.

After that, organisers whispered the secret venue and attendees peeled off towards the University Women’s Club where one of the feminists, an engineer, is a member. Activists chased them through Mayfair streets in a black cab, but were stopped at the door by the club’s magnificent pearl-clad chairwoman. And in a grand library the meeting finally took place, with the trans activists outside chanting; “Burn it down!”

I wouldn’t trouble Times readers, no doubt weary of reading daily about gender-fluidity and schoolboys in frocks, with this affair if it didn’t reveal such serious issues. Changes to the very definition of “man” and “woman” are being proposed, yet it is almost impossible to hold a public meeting to discuss them. Wednesday’s speakers were a lesbian academic and a trans woman. Two members of the LGBT group Stonewall initially agreed to take part in what was to be a debate, but dropped out. Winning arguments is far harder for the trans lobby than shutting them down.

Mainly because trans demands and women’s rights are often in such clear and irreconcilable conflict. Take Martin Ponting, jailed in 1995 for raping two girls, one disabled. After cosmetic surgery, but still possessing male genitalia, Ponting, now called Jessica Winfield, was moved to Bronzefield women’s prison but after making unwanted sexual advances to inmates has been segregated. Are you appalled that a rapist is confined with women prisoners, mainly non-violent offenders and themselves often victims of male sexual abuse? Do you think the Soham murderer Ian Huntley should never be allowed to transfer even if, as reported, he calls himself “Lian”? Then you too are a TERF and deserve to be punched.

When white supremacists marched through US streets, the left concluded it was fine to counter-attack heavily armed racist militia who posed a physical threat to ethnic minorities. But certain trans activists have extrapolated: they believe debate itself makes them “unsafe”, so it is self-defence to attack those who are “systemically violent”, ie anyone with whom they disagree.

This combination of declared victimhood and ruthless vengeance has so far achieved its goal: silence. Maria Miller, chairing her GRA inquiry, did not even call prison gender experts who submitted their fears that male sexual offenders transition into women to be closer — how amazing! — to potential victims. When Miller’s report went before parliament only one MP, the fearless Caroline Flint, raised potential conflicts with women’s safety, for which she was eviscerated online.

But the tide is turning and the trans activists have a lot more people to punch. Like women athletes who fear their sports will soon be meaningless if trans women are allowed to compete; teachers horrified by an epidemic of adolescent girls binding their breasts, persuaded by extreme internet blogs that they’re in the “wrong body”; psychiatrists fearful of demanded changes to gender treatment protocols which will make advising “wait and see” to confused teenagers rather than shoving them straight on hormones a hate crime.

So when is it OK to punch a woman? When she won’t do what you want; when you don’t like what she says. Some things never change.