A seriously abridged version of my journey through trans madness
This story begins, for me, in 2003. I noticed a small report in a tabloid newspaper about a teacher who had left her primary school as ‘Miss’ and was returning the following term as ‘Mr’, having gone through sex reassignment surgery. I decided to write a feature on the madness of the diagnosis of transsexuality, and how misogynistic psychiatrists in the 1950s had come up with the notion of being "trapped in the wrong body".
In the piece I quoted a forensic psychiatrist called Fiona Mason, who I knew to be a feminist and who was expert on the effects of sexual violence on women and girls. She said:
‘I can’t imagine assessing anyone suffering from a serious disorder in under three hours. It can take three years to assess patients with complex problems. The trouble with some private clinics is that the patients are just given hormones after an hour-long appointment, which can have an irreversible effect on the body.”
I quoted the best-known psychiatrist for diagnosing transsexuality, Russell Reid, who some years later would end up being forced to stop practising by the GMC after it was discovered that he took approximately 45 minutes to diagnose someone as transsexual, before referring them for surgery and hormones. Many of his former patients regretted going through sex change surgery, including my friend Claudia, a great ally, who was one of his victims back in the 1980s.
“In 2000 Reid was involved in controversy over the condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), where sufferers can experience a desperate urge to rid themselves of a limb. Reid was one of the psychiatrists who referred two patients with BDD to a surgeon for leg amputations. ‘When I first heard of people wanting amputations it seemed bizarre in the extreme,’ he said, ‘but then I thought, "I see transsexuals and they want healthy parts of their body removed in order to adjust to their idealised body image, and so I think that was the connection for me. I saw that people wanted to have their limbs off with equally as much degree of obsession and need.”
In the 2003 piece I also mentioned children:
“Particularly disturbing is the apparent impunity with which children are diagnosed with ‘gender identity disorder’. Mermaids, [trans activists and lobbyists that promote the notion of transgender children], has seen a dramatic increase in enquiries since it opened its doors in 1993. Children as young as 14 are receiving sex-change treatment, including being prescribed drugs to block the onset of puberty. Transsexualism is the only psychiatric or medical condition where the patients can, to all intents and purposes, diagnose themselves.”
The next year I left my job in academic research to do journalism full time and was asked to write a couple of columns for the Guardian Weekend Magazine. I had heard about the hellish legal case that the brilliant Vancouver Rape Relief had been going through for 10 years that had recently concluded in their favour. A transsexual male called Kimberly Nixon had taken out a case against the organisation on a human rights ticket, claiming to have been discriminated against because he wasn't being invited to counsel rape victims despite identifying as female. The column, in which I went berserk about the diagnosis of transsexualism, male entitlement, and sex stereotypes that transsexuality promotes, was shared worldwide amongst trans activists on personal blogs and list serves. It was before Facebook and Twitter. A forum, Gingerbeer, that described itself as an online social group for lesbians to chat and share information in the UK had a policy of including transsexual males that identified as lesbians. My piece was a hot topic of discussion for at least a year, and I could see, on visiting the site, that the trans lobby had plans to come after the feminists. The Guardian received 200 letters of complaint, and the reader's editor wrote his own weekly column on the issue saying that it was wrong to have published it. My editor, Katharine Viner, defended both me and her decision to run it.
The gay press began to vilify me, and I received hate mail and death threats on a weekly basis from the trans-Taliban. This harassment culminated in a 200 strong demonstration against me outside the Victoria and Albert Museum where Stonewall was holding its annual awards ceremony. I had been nominated for Journalist of the Year in 2008, and quite frankly had it not been for the fact that I found out about the nomination via Penis News in a "shock, horror – vile transphobe Bindel is up for an award" I would have not even attended the event, being no fan of Stonewall. I didn't receive the award. I was told, in confidence by one of the judges, that I was a clear winner, but that they did not dare give me the award in case the trans-activists stormed the museum. Instead it was given to a heterosexual agony aunt who had never been a journalist.
That demonstration galvanised the transgender movement in the UK, and from then on, everywhere I went to speak about violence against women and girls, there would be some kind of protest, picket, or attempt to disinvite me. In 2009 I was given the honour of being the very first individual to be officially no platformed by the National Union of students alongside five fascist groups. The motion at the conference that decided my ban contained the sentence, "Julie Bindle (sic) is vile".
In 2010 I accepted an invitation to speak at an event called Queer Question Time at the Vauxhall Tavern in London. The trans activists went wild at hearing I had been invited, and dozens of them turned up screaming and shouting that I was a Nazi, a bigot, a fascist, etc, and then came into the venue itself, shouted and heckled all the way through my presentations, with one trans activist throwing an object at me on stage whilst screaming in my face. The videos can be found on YouTube.
It happened outside of the UK also, such as when Janice Raymond, heroic feminist and author of the 1979 classic The Transsexual Empire and I spoke at a conference in Denmark in 2011 about the abuse of women and girls in the global sex trade. The pro-prostitution lobby, which is indivisible from trans activists, turned up at the event, having spent months trying to get every single person involved in or speaking at the conference to demand our expulsion. Outside of the venue they screamed and shouted about how bigoted, violent and dangerous we were, and proceeded to bang on the windows whilst a sex trade survivor was speaking about being pimped age 15.
In 2014 I was invited to debate a pornographer at Essex University. Students had attempted to de-platform me (on the grounds of ‘transphobia’), but not my opponent, a man who has made money from rape and racist porn genres. He was given a warm welcome by the sea of blue-fringed students.
These people have hounded me for 18 years now and will clearly never give up. Their lowest point was when they attempted to get me disinvited from a talk I have been asked to do in 2017 at the Salford Working Class Library, the only venue of its kind in the country, on growing up a working-class lesbian in the north-east of England. They hounded and harassed the volunteers at the library, blocked their phone line, targeted all of their sponsors and supporters, tried very hard to get their funding pulled, and when they failed, turned up on the day to scream and shout. Leftist poster boy Owen Jones, who the brilliant Lucy Masoud named Talcum X, was asked politely to give support to the library and denounce the bullies, but he declined.
During this time, I would get emails from feminist after feminist telling me they agreed with what I have said, they shared my position, but of course dare not say anything because they would come in for the same treatment as me.
I would then get the liberals telling me, an out lesbian since 1977, that they could not possibly support my position against transgender ideology, because the trans-rights movement, as they saw it, was exactly the same as the lesbian and gay liberation movement back in the 1970s. They refused to accept that this was a men's rights movement, underpinned by the most pernicious misogyny, and supported by men who could scream "bigot, transphobe” and the likes at me and still be seen on the side of the progressives.
And then there were the free-speech warriors, that told me although they personally despised my transphobia, they defended my right to say it. This is not and never has been about free speech, it's about who is silenced and who has the loudest voice. When the likes of Mary Beard and Peter Tatchell openly called me a transphobe whilst gallantly defending my right say transphobic things, I was deeply offended. When Caroline Lucas, the Green Party member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, who has called for the town to have its own gender clinic, gave an interview to Penis News in which she expressed dismay at my bigoted transphobic beliefs, I realised that no one except for feminists and the few feminist allies that are brave enough to stand up, were going to sort out this hell we had sleepwalked into.
But which feminists? In 2016, when the Fawcett Society published its report on the organisation's position on "gender" meaning transgenderism, in order to look like good girls and cover their backs, they used me as an example of a ‘transphobic feminist’ and used, as ‘evidence’ a report from in Penis News that was as pernicious as it was inaccurate. I complained, as did the journalist and feminist Sarah Ditum, who wrote:
‘One may disagree with certain statements or positions. But to deliberately cast other women as the "bad" feminists, regardless of their dedicated histories of activism and intellectual labour, and in apparent ignorance of the misogynist harassment directed at them, is unforgivable.’
The reference to me was subsequently removed. Ditum’s intervention was crucial; Fawcett could see there were more of us than they had hoped, and that divide and rule, where they picked on the ‘bad feminists’ would fail as a tactic.
Whilst dozens of people were sending me private messages, telling me how scared they were to stand up against this, because they might lose their jobs, some of us WERE losing our income, our reputation, and the ability to do our feminist campaigning.
We have to follow the example of those feminists in countries where it is literally illegal to speak out against male violence, who risk being arrested or even going to prison. In 2019 I visited Uganda where there is a 14-year prison sentence for same-sex encounters, where lesbians are punishment raped, rejected by their families, live on the streets, and often pimped into prostitution, for being lesbians. What do they do? They fight back. A huge group of those women have committed themselves to resisting male supremacy at enormous risk to their lives, their mental health, and their livelihood. This is what we do, this is what women in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia do, where the oppression and risk to life is so high because of male violence that they fight back even harder.
If we all resist together they cannot win. And this is exactly what is happening today. Thanks to the brilliant work of Woman’s Place UK, Transgender Trend, Fair Play for Women, Sex Matters, and many other groups and individuals, we are now a movement, not a disparate group of individuals, shouting into a void. In the words of my dear friend and sister-in-arms Pragna Patel says, ‘Women’s tradition: struggle, not submission!’