Just a bit of a Wrant.


River Dwyfor below Lloyd George’s Grave, Llanstumdwy, Gwynedd*

I intended to bring you all sorts of truths distilled from Tom Wright’s book, ‘Surprised by Hope’ in Lent and so far I’ve only described the Preface.

The truth is I like reading even more that I love writing. So Chapter 1 of ‘Surprised by Hope’ was a delight to the reading me and useless to the writing me. Chapter 1 re-introduced me to so many poems and poets of my youth, including Kipling and Tennyson and ‘In Memoriam’, that was last week taken care of.

In any case, the nonsense in the world continues. No, I don’t mean that. I cannot treat subjects as nonsense when they strike at the very heart of most of the things most of us hold as givens.

There are two things that have got me writing and wranting (that is a subtle spelling mistake) this week. Transgenders and Confirmation.

Today I’ll wrant about transgenders.

“Woman’s Hour presenter Dame Jenni Murray has sparked controversy after suggesting that men who undergo sex change operations are not “real women”.

The Radio 4 host, 66, questioned whether someone who has enjoyed the privileges of growing up as a man could really be a woman.”

Shock! Horror! How dare she? ‘Stonewall’, the LGBT+ charity, had plenty to say.

But Dame Jenni said that she “firmly” believes that transsexuals and transvestites… “should be treated with respect and protected from the bullying and violence”.

Of course, she does. So do I. I hope we all abhor bullying and violence.

What Jenni Murray says echoes things I’ve been thinking for some years.

This, for me, is the clincher. If a man really believes he is a woman, she will think like a woman, and therefore she will understand why women, particularly very young women and those with small girls, are uncomfortable having men suddenly popping up in women’s toilets, restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms or whatever names such places go under these days. Looking like a woman doesn’t make you a woman. Ask Barry Humphries. To be a woman you have to think and feel and sympathize and empathize like a woman and then behave accordingly. It isn’t difficult. Most high street cafes have gender neutral loos. Prove you are a sensitive woman and use one of those, rather than trying to prove you are a woman by demanding the right to use a Ladies Only.

Like Jenni Murray I am not condemning; I am simply trying to apply a little common sense to a highly charged and often acrimonious debate. So I will try and explain to transgender members of Stonewall where I stand.

I know it’s going to be tough for you because having been born a male you have been treated differently from your first breath in ways you aren’t aware of.

You’ve also never been forced to wear high heels that cripple you throughout a long day, or put on heavy make up when you want to cultivate the ‘natural’ look. You’ve certainly never been told to look like the sort of stereo-typical woman some male numbskull in a global office or a swish hotel thinks a ‘woman’ should look like. You may be experiencing those things now and you may even welcome them because you think that makes you a woman. You’re wrong. It doesn’t. The picture of Caitlin Jenner on the cover of Vogue didn’t make her a woman. It made her look like the sort of woman that some women and a lot of men think women want to look like. Most of us don’t. We’re far too busy being, rather than just looking like, women.

You haven’t had to cope with the irrational behaviour that can accompany PMT every four weeks and you’ve certainly never spent days writhing in agony with period pains. Holding your stomach while talking to your daughter about ‘bloating’ doesn’t count.

I’m not being ‘anti’ anything. I don’t have a phobia about trans anyone. I’m just trying to point out certain obstacles that need to be acknowledged.

OK That’s Rant One. Rant two will follow in a day or two.

*Just because it is such an idyllic peaceful place to think about things.

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