Over the weekend, the Telegraph published an article entitled ‘Transgender politics is a world where if I say a thing is true, it is’ by Melanie McDonagh in their premium section. It then appeared in Monday’s actual Telegraph.

I don’t have a premium Telegraph subscription – there’s only so far I’ll go to keep an eye on the right-wing and helping to support them financially is a step beyond – but I didn’t need to read the whole thing to know exactly what McDonagh was up to.

“It’s as I often suspected,” McDongh started. “I am, to all intents and purposes, a man. Not in the old, biological sense of having XY chromosomes and the potential to father children, but in the very real sense that if you feel you are a man, you actually are one.

“According to new guidelines from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the way I can tell is that being a man “often means adhering to social norms of masculinity, such as being competitive, ambitious, independent, rational, tough, sexual, confident, dominant, taking risks and caring about their work”. That’s me!”

Leaving aside that you can have XY females and XX males, a point McDonagh doesn’t seem aware of as she lays out her whole ‘XX = women and that’s all there is to it’ viewpoint of a world constructed decades ago and which has not been advanced at all by science and our deepening understanding of complex issues, her arrogance is astounding, even for a Daily Telegraph columnist.

It’s quite remarkable how many people claim themselves experts on gender despite having no clue whatsoever. McDonagh doesn’t understand how transgender people feel – because she is not transgender herself. She can be an expert on being cis – someone whose gender and gender assigned at birth line up and she can talk to us about what that’s like but she can’t declare something doesn’t exist just because she doesn’t feel it. You know, like those heterosexual people who used to claim that being gay wasn’t natural because they weren’t attracted to people of the same sex so how could anyone else be?

It’s as stupid an argument as saying you don’t understand how someone can have black hair when yours is ginger or how people can be so tall when you’re not. If there is one thing that we can say with any certainty about being human it is that we are a varied lot. We are not binary creatures no matter how much old-fashioned thinkers like McDonagh insist that we are.

To boil being transgender down to a few personality traits or items of clothing McDonagh betrays how little she knows about what it feels like to be transgender. Rather than try to expand her knowledge and understanding in the hope of becoming a better human being with a deeper grasp of those around her, McDonagh resorts instead to reductive thinking that harms the transgender cause, furthers our persecution and, in very real terms, leads to people dying.

That’s the game these anti-trans writers, be they left or right wing, play. They pay neither an admission cost nor exit fee. That falls on the people they fail to understand while media outlets like the Mail and the Telegraph continue to pay writers to play a deadly game they don’t even understand.

This article first appeared on the Trans Guy Handbook

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