I said earlier on my channel that being wrong feels exactly like being right. It’s only when we take the trouble to learn, to see past our assumptions that we begin to feel the awkward psychological sensation associated with awareness of our own ignorance. And that’s good. Awareness of our own inaccuracy is the first step – often the only step needed to become accurate again.
That’s why it’s so toxic for any of us to bury our heads in the sand. Especially when the ostrich in question is a sitting MP with a penchant for attention-seeking and far-right dog-whistling. A populist MP who still believes that, having fooled his constituents once, he can continue to get away with voting so often against their interests simply by targeting a minority to whip up a bit of hatred against.
Someone like Mark Jenkinson MP, for example…
Mr Jenkinson stated recently: “Trans men aren’t men, and trans women aren’t women, sex is something we cannot change, that is the scientific view, and there is no need to educate myself on any view. It’s not just the view of me and my constituents. All I’ve ever said or done is point out the difference between gender and sex.”
Well… let’s take a brief look at the scientific view, shall we?
The magazine, ‘Nature’ is one of the most respected journals in the scientific literature. Its peer-reviewed articles are a world away from the populist dog-whistles cobbled together by biased hacks in the Daily Mail. ‘Nature’ is a scientific journal with content written by specialist science journalists and peer-reviewed for quality by practicing scientists knowledgeable in their respective fields.
T’Sjoen is an endocrinologist at the very top of his profession. He spoke with ‘Nature’ in April 2019 and made some very interesting points. Points that Mark Jenkinson MP might do well to heed before he goes shouting his mouth off about other peoples’ right to be themselves.
“Saying you’re not informed about this topic is not really valid any more,” he says. “It’s just that you’re lazy.”
The European Network for the Investigation of Gender Incongruence (ENIGI) is the largest study of transgender people in the world. In April 2019 it had a research base of 2,600 transgender individuals who provide regular ‘snapshots’ of both their psychological and their biological states. The study takes account of subjective experiences as well as more objective measurements such as hormonal balance, biological wellness, general health, task-orientated brain activity and general physical and physiological well-being. Many of these metrics have very real correlations with more normative gender-based characteristics and the results are fascinating. I won’t quote the extensive article here but I’d strongly encourage anyone who thinks they understand this topic to follow the links.
One thing Mark and I do have in common is that neither of us really ‘get it’. I don’t pretend for a moment to understand what it means to be uncomfortable with your birth-assigned gender. I’m a man, I’ve always been male, I identify as a male and I feel absolutely comfortable in that regard. I have very real difficulty in understanding how others can find that problematic. I have little doubt that Mark Jenkinson MP can say the same. But here’s where we differ…
Jenkinson, perhaps deliberately, confuses gender with biological sex whilst, ironically enough pretending to rely upon that very difference to inform his spurious, bigoted arguments. I understand that gender is a socially defined construct which is different from biology. And that social definition has always been open to change.
It used to be that women weren’t allowed to vote, they were barred from certain jobs. My own mother really wanted to be a barrister but gender-based prejudices in the mid twentieth century sent her down a different path, first as a housewife and mother and then on to a very successful career as a primary school teacher (traditionally a career acceptable for women). Today nobody would sneer at her ambition to approach the bar because the socially constructed gender rules have changed as society moves on.
Whatever your individual views on gender might be here’s the bottom line for me…
People have a right to be who they are… to live their lives free from bigotry and hostility… to know that they are part of their society and that they have a place. They don’t need everyone to understand their experience. I was very clear with the people I spoke to at Saturday’s little demo that I don’t ‘get it’ but that I support each person’s right to be themselves. Not a single trans person I met objected to that stance of mine.
If, like my bigoted, dog-whistling MP, you have a problem with trans people then I suggest you ask yourself just what it is about you that makes you take such an unhealthy interest in other peoples’ gender preferences. And remember…
Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable about your prejudices is the first and most crucial step toward adopting a healthier, happier and far more reasonable and compassionate perspective for the future.
Don’t allow Mark Jenkinson MP to hijack your humanity just so he can con you into hating ‘them’ and voting for ‘him’. The politics of ‘us and them’ should have no place in a civilised democracy. Nor should bigoted, hate-mongering MPs like Mark Jenkinson! He has a right to his opinion but when he uses his position as MP to foster hatred and prejudice he really oughtn’t to represent the decent people of Workington for a moment longer than the law allows.