Is it transphobic to say women get periods? Don’t be daft, says Ella Whelan
According to the latest Twitter meltdown, using the shorthand of ‘women’ when referring to ‘people who menstruate’ is not just pedantic, it’s transphobic – it doesn’t include the gender non-binary individuals who have periods. An article arguing for greater investment in menstrual health and hygiene in developing countries post Covid-19 used the term ‘people who menstruate’ instead of women. And, as it was rather obvious that the article was talking about women (even using a picture of a woman leading a workshop on menstruation in Kenya) British author JK Rowling pointed this out, tweeting: ‘I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’
Twitter wars are rarely important – but this one is interesting. Rowling’s tweet prompted enormous outcry, even Daniel Radcliffe has put out a statement denouncing her comments: ‘Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people’. There is often a generational divide in the debate – Jonathan Ross, who initially tweeted in support of Rowling, got told off by his daughters for saying that she ‘clearly’ wasn’t transphobic. He later U-turned, tweeting, ‘I’ve come to accept that I’m not in a position to decide what is or isn’t considered transphobic’.
Is it transphobic to say women get periods? Don’t be daft – even the Devex article cites a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded report which it says reveals that ‘500 million women’ – not people – ‘worldwide do not have what they need to manage their menstruation’. Rowling is known for taking what’s deridingly called the ‘TERF’ side in the debate over gender – arguing that while gender might be a construct, the biological or sex difference between man and woman is not. Some criticised her for voicing her opinion at a time when there is so much going on in politics (a pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, the return of the premier league). But when it comes to prioritising political focus, talking about non-binary people who menstruate in the context of developing countries seems more than a little odd. It’s silly – instead of the article focusing on greater investment in sanitation and education for poor people across the world, the reader is distracted by the authors’ ham-fisted attempts to be ‘right on’.
What this really displays is a huge amount of bad faith on the part of those calling for Rowling’s head on a stick. The overwhelming majority of ‘people who menstruate’ on this planet will be girls and women. But that isn’t the defining factor of womanhood. Anyone who has a mother will also know that not all women menstruate – haven’t you ever heard of the menopause? Then there’s people with polycystic ovaries, girls like me who couldn’t be bothered with all the fuss and took the pill back-to-back for years on end and, yes, a small number of non-binary individuals who would like to be known as a different gender despite their bodily functions or lack thereof. What this obsession with language really suggests is that this is not about being accurate with terminology, but a belief that we all must be reminded of our inherent transphobia by having it spelled out to us in long, useless sentences.
There is a bigger problem with this debate – one that goes beyond the childish and petulant demands to police language from those who cry ‘transphobia’. Rowling accused her critics of ‘erasing the concept of sex’ by claiming that transwomen are women. On both sides of this war of words between trans activists and radical feminists, a rather reductive view of women is starting to fester. Because inevitably one has to ask: what does it mean to be a woman? Is it all about sex and periods and genitalia and our difference from men – I hope not. But neither are those things irrelevant. During the campaign for abortion rights in the Republic of Ireland in 2018, many trans activists were demanding that the term ‘pregnant people’ be used to include gender non-binary individuals. This completely ignores the fact that anti-abortion sentiment in Ireland was not targeted at ‘people’ but women specifically. Prejudices about women – not non-binary people – are what still informs blocks to women’s freedom whether it be to do with abortion rights, childcare issues or menstruation. To pretend that this isn’t a women’s issue is to completely deny the politics of women’s freedom.
Repeating ‘transwomen are women’ like a prayer doesn’t make it so. Asking how this mantra might raise practical issues when it comes to fighting for freedoms and rights is tantamount to questioning god – you risk being struck down by a Twitter mob. Trans individuals should be able to label themselves as they please – the same as any individual in society. And as ‘people who identify as hating beating around the bush’, we should also be able to call out the real intolerance in this never-ending debate about gender.
My cmnt: This is interesting. Even tho’ it is always fun when the goofy propositions of Libs and other Leftists come back to haunt them that is not the larger point here. The point that Rowling is making is that biological women are a real, distinct sex from men who have real issues with menstruation, pregnancy, health, rape and violence that biological men simply do NOT have. Pretending this is not so is not only disingenuous (and insane) it is dangerous to biological women.
My cmnt 2: Southpark has a great episode on transitioning where Kyle wants to be a tall, black kid so he can play basketball, Mr. Garison wants to be a woman so he can get an abortion, and Mr. Broflovski wants to be a dolphin. It of course ends in disaster for all three when their wishes come true.
My cmnt 3: Cartman describes Gingers as being disgusting, inhuman, unable to survive in sunlight, and having no souls. When Kyle points out that he too has red hair, Cartman says that there is a second class of redheads, the “daywalkers“, who have red hair but not pale skin and freckles. I include this not only because it is funny but since my wife is part ginger I am immune to criticism. And germane to being immune to criticism you will want to view Howard Stern in blackface as he mockingly impersonates Ted Danson and his girlfriend at the time Whoopi Goldberg. Both Ted and Howard claim immunity to criticism. Howard because he is a ‘shock jock’ and attempting to provoke and Ted because he was coupled with Whoopi who is black. The real truth here is that democrats because of their media, university, press and Hollywood allies can say and do anything with impunity while Republicans must either agree with the cultural rot put forth daily by the Left or walk on eggshells when objecting to it or risk being ruined politically, financially, in their careers or even prosecuted criminally.
‘People who menstruate’: Daniel Radcliffe responds to J.K. Rowling’s tweets about gender identity
By Saba Hamedy | CNN
The boy who lived is speaking out.
Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the “Harry Potter” franchise, on Monday responded to franchise creator J.K. Rowling’s controversial tweets about gender identity, directly addressing fans who may have felt pain reading the author’s comments, which some labeled as transphobic.
Rowling, who has often come under fire by the large Potter fandom for her social media posts, sparked backlash over the weekend after mocking a headline about “people who menstruate.”
“‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” she tweeted on Saturday. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Radcliffe, who doesn’t have a public presence on social media, wrote a heartfelt response to Rowling’s comments in a blog post for The Trevor Project, a non-profit devoted to suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth.
“Transgender women are women,” he wrote. “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo (Rowling) or I.”
Rowling has not issued an apology. Though in a follow-up to her tweet on Saturday, she wrote in quotes words that she had been called as part of the backlash, including “witch” and “TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
“Times change. Woman-hate is eternal,” she wrote.