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When the pot is boiling over, try turning down the heat

I am told that one of the ways Libertarians irritate normal people is by their attitude that there is a simple answer for so many of the political dilemmas that vex society.

Suck it up, normies, there is. There is certainly a simple answer for the political dilemma about which the Times is asking in this Readers’ poll: “Should everyone who identifies as female have access to women-only spaces?” The rubric says,

The government is consulting on a reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Currently the law allows people to gain legal recognition for a change of gender, but some transgender groups say the process is bureaucratic and intrusive and are pushing for a change that will allow anyone to freely choose their gender.

This is opposed by a number of women’s rights groups, which say the change would give men access to female-only spaces such as lavatories and changing rooms, putting women in danger.

The equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, will consider whether to reform the law after the consultation ends on October 19 — but as The Sunday Times reports, many Conservative MPs are opposed to any change.

What’s your view?

You doubtless want to hear the result of the poll. I will tell you by and by, but for now I will exercise my freedom to irritate, and reiterate that the simple answer to the political dilemma is to take politics, in the sense of laws voted into existence by MPs like Penny Mordaunt and then enforced by the police and the Equalities Commission and suchlike, entirely out of the equation. Freedom of association for all! But what about bad people? What about Nazis? Yes, them too. If Nazis own or legitimately hire a space to do their Nazi stuff in, leave them to it. Don’t want to hire your hall to Nazis? Then don’t. Want to boycott any premises that lets Nazis in – or any that keeps Nazis out? Then do so.

Between groups of people who are not bad but among whom there are differences of opinion, try negotiation. It doesn’t have to be a million separate negotiations for every individual village hall or public lavatory, or for every women’s sporting competition or Brownie pack; there are such things as organisations and organisational policies. Not that there is anything wrong with having a great many separate local deals. This is called “subsidarity”.

Many fear that this radical strategy would give free rein to the worst instincts of the people. I don’t get it. To get into the habit of settling disputes by meeting the other party and peacefully trying to reach a compromise sounds a great deal more likely to give free rein to the best instincts of the people. Humans are nicer when not being threatened. Conversely when they suspect that in their relations with another group that, as the saying goes, “if you give them an inch they’ll take a mile” – then they won’t give an inch.

The other day I read this post from Econlog entitled “Tradeoffs Between Immigration and Reduced Freedom of Association”. Key quote:

The more that people’s freedom not to associate with others is reined in, especially when those others are people of different races, the less likely they are to favor immigration and, even if they never favored immigration, the more likely they are to be outspoken opponents of immigration.

Race is not the only category this applies to. Have you noticed how people who five years ago would have thought a transwoman was a lady from Transylvania now see transsexuals and/or transgender people as a threat? Have you also noticed how discussion of this issue is another pot beginning to boil over to use the metaphor of my earlier post. So far the lid is being held down. One word out of place on this topic can get you into trouble. But the pressure keeps rattling the pot, with jets of steam coming from such unlikely members of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy as users of Mumsnet, members of the Labour party and Lesbians at a Pride march.

I voted “No” in that Times poll. As so often with me and polls I did not agree with the premises of the question. Other people freely choosing the gender is none of my business. I do not support or oppose a change in the criteria for legal recognition for a change of gender; I support tearing up all the laws on this subject and setting them on fire. Still my answer to the question “Should everyone who identifies as female have access to women-only spaces?” was closer to “No” than “Yes”.

5,068 votes have been cast so far in the poll. 97% of them were “No”. Of course it is a self-selecting sample from readers of one newspaper. Do not read too much into it. But you probably should read something into it. That is a strikingly high level of disapproval of a Conservative government’s proposed policy from the readers of a Conservative-leaning newspaper.

25 comments to When the pot is boiling over, try turning down the heat

  • Alex VanderWoude

    Notwithstanding the point of this post, I would like to express my frustration with an ever-more-common grammatical error: “reign in” and “free reign” should be “rein in” and “free rein”. The expression refers to the leather cords used to control a horse rather than the period of rule by a king or queen. The Econlog quote gets this right, which makes it all the more jarring that the OP does not.
    </grammarnazi>

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Way to rein on my parade, Mr VanderWoude 🙁 ! Will correct.

  • Agammamon

    “Should everyone who identifies as female have access to women-only spaces?”

    What bothers me about these people (and those who write about them) is the deliberate attempt to conflate sex with gender – even when their own philosophy relies on them being different.

    If you accept that gender and sex are not inextricably linked, then a male still *can not* ‘identify’ as female. He might think he’s a woman, and maybe as far as gender roles goes he is,but he’s still not female. Male and female are descriptions of biological structures and functions – and certainly not ‘socially determined’.

    So, a male who identifies as a woman may (or may not) deserve access to *women-only* spaces – but he doesn’t get access to *female-only* spaces (or else they would, by definition, no longer be ‘female-only’.

    So, there’s a difference here between going to a bridal shower, a women’s-networking business event, etc, and being in a female-locker room or public toilet.

  • RAB

    Question… Do you still have the dangly bits you were born with? If yes then you are not coming in these changing rooms. Simple.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Gender dysphoria is a rare but real condition. Unfortunately, many culturally traditionalist people treat it as mere delusion or perversion, to be suppressed by force if necessary. This has led many transgender activists into alliance with cultural radicals, and to adopt maximalist demands. I.e., any person claiming to be transgendered must be treated in all respects as the claimed gender. (Also, any child showing any sort of gender non-conformity must be treated as intractably TG, including immediate medical intervention, leading to numerous disastrous false positives.)

    A “trans-woman” who has had SRS, or orchidectomy, or even sustained hormonal treatment, might be permitted such access. But not anyone who is still functionally male.

  • MC

    Gender dysphoria is certainly real. It is a mental illness where a man believes himself to be a woman, or vice versa. It is the suggestion that a biological male is really a woman, but cheated by God or nature, that is unreal.

    The problem with gender in this context is that it is a nonsensical concept, one of many nonsenses propounded by the social sciences. The adoption of gender as a (false) synonym for sex in official documentation is a significant part of the problem. I suspect this came about as a sort of prim bowdlerisation, like the use of rooster instead of cock.

    The law ought to take account only of biological sex. If an individual, due to derangement or whim, decides his ‘gender’ is different from biological sex, there is no need for officaldom to be concerned. Or anyone else for that matter.

  • ns

    Yes, the poll is unscientific, and subject to bias. To make it scientific, and unbiased (consults my copy of the EU Handbook on Polls and Referenda) it should be re-run until the answer is yes. Otherwise, what’s the point of having an equalities minister? Ms. Mordaunt can’t just sit around and do nothing all day.
    I don’t need to add a /sarc or /humor tag to that, do I? At least not on this site?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I don’t need to add a /sarc or /humor tag to that, do I? At least not on this site?

    This site strictly prohibits /humor tags. However /humour tags are permitted to be operated by persons holding the proper licence.

  • ns

    I knew I’d get a comment on that lack of a “u” 🙂
    I tried a crossword, from the Times, I think, and tripped up on the clue of “hue, or tint” that started with a “c” and ended with “r” but was 6 letters so it couldn’t be “color” …

  • Mr Ed

    AFAIC, you can change your sex when you have had a stable chromosome transplant into every nucleate cell in your body, XX > XY, or XY > XX (the latter would be the easier option, but biology stinks sometimes). Come back after the operation and tell us how it went.

    Otherwise, your cells would betray you.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, there’s a lot to say in response to Scott Alexander’s Lizardman piece. I’ll remark (briefly, promise!) on just two.

    1. Lewandowsky, Cook, et al. and the Coming Global Furnace. Anthony Watts (wattsupwiththat.com) has published a number of pieces putting Lew. et al. to a timely rest. From what I’ve seen, I’ll buy that.

    2. “Obama is the anti-Christ” is just silly. He is, however, a Sith, and while I don’t think the Sith run the entire world, and also don’t know whether in fact they are actually reptilian, I am absolutely positive that they provide the demon spawn which Cthulhu is using to take over the world.

    3. Obama may be a Muslim, if the alleged Islamic doctrine of “once a Muslim, always a Muslim” is correct. (But in that case, apostasy from Islam is impossible by definition. *puzzled expression*)

    However, I think the Greater Truth is that the Sith is first, last, and always an Obamanist. With strong Marxist, anti-U.S./Britishist, and anti-Westernist generally in the mix.

    . . .

    Natalie, directly on topic: I do believe in “Safe Spaces” for actual female women and such small male children as need the Facilities/Rest Room/Loo. Should they be required by law? Not in a country that is actually civilized, at least. But I won’t shop at Target anymore, because they don’t make women-/female-only bathrooms available.

    The trouble with even the “dangly bits” criterion for defining who’s to be excluded from the Ladies’ Room is that unless you ask the dude/dudette to strip before he/she/it will be admitted, there’s really no way to tell who’s what. This is one place where social pressure to stick to the traditional norm seems to me the best solution; it too is imperfect, of course.

    Of course the best, and in a high-traffic public venue doubtless most expensive, solution is to have individual bathrooms. That’s as close to foolproof as I can think of.

    Bottom line: I’ll join Natalie in her answer to the question as asked, except that I vote just plain “No.”

    ‘I support tearing up all the laws on this subject and setting them on fire. Still my answer to the question “Should everyone who identifies as female have access to women-only spaces?” was closer to “No” than “Yes”.’

    Because the question specifies “everyone who identifies as female.”

    .

    The best way to handle phone polls is to have your answering message announce up front: “If this is not a solicitation, a poll, or a survey, leave a message after the tone.” Or if approached face-to-face, Just Say No. (Unless you feel like engaging, of course.)

  • Phil B

    Of course, there is a simple test to determine if someone is male or female … do they leave the toilet seat up or down? >};o)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Julie near Chicago,

    The irony is that with a little benign hypocrisy, the fact that “there’s really no way to tell who’s what” could be – and until recently was – used to smooth the problem away. It never would have occurred to most women to wonder if the slightly taller than average female figure emerging from the stall next to them was born female or not.

    But the modern world won’t let anything go by with a wink and a shrug, even when that makes for a peaceful life for all parties. Everything has to be demanded or denied by law.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Quite so, Natalie. There was a time when a lot of social norms were benevolent in their effect.

    And most men (dangly bits) would never have thought of going into the ladies’ room, even if they were mis-wired somehow.

    I agree with you. The idea that everything is undoubtedly absolutely positively necessarily an issue to be dealt with by the legal and law-enforcement system is — in fact — totalitarian.

  • John B

    A true liberal (in the classical English sense) does NOT believe there is a ‘simple answer’ to anything in life, just trade-offs. A trade-off occurs by spontaneous, emergent order within society.

    The belief that there is a simple answer to everything is the province of Socialism and its various sects, National Socialism and Facism. And that simple answer can only be provided by government politburo imposing it on the Collective.

    And that is the difference between Liberalism and Socialism, the former = freedom; the latter = tyranny.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    John B writes,

    A true liberal (in the classical English sense) does NOT believe there is a ‘simple answer’ to anything in life, just trade-offs. A trade-off occurs by spontaneous, emergent order within society.

    The belief that there is a simple answer to everything is the province of Socialism

    I disagree with your proposition that there is any necessary correlation between believing that there is a simple answer to anything and socialism, or that between believing there is not a simple answer to anything and liberalism.

    The defining characteristic of socialism is a belief in force, not simplicity.

    My statement about simple answers was phrased a little more absolutely than it might have been in order to get a laugh, but when it comes to free speech and free association I stand by it. The government butting out of the whole issue is a simple solution that is proven to work.

    That said, I’m entirely in agreement with your remarks on trade-offs; they occur again and again in so many areas of life. I also get what you mean about how part of the malign attraction of the use of force to some people is the imagined simplicity of “just” finding the right solution and imposing it.

  • pete

    I can’t see any problem allowing people to freely choose their gender from the infinite variety of gender identities available.

    People cannot choose their sex, or change it, and we should compel people to only use the public lavatories designated for their sex if they use any at all.

  • Nullius in Verba

    The Harm Principle applies. Does somebody simply going to the toilet in the cubicle next to you do you any unconsented harm? Do we have harm being done because of unisex toilets on trains and in people’s homes? If not, society should have no right to intervene.

    However, rights over private property may also apply. Thus, the owner of the toilets may decide to apply their own rules on who is allowed where within their building. Businesses would likely take account of their customer’s feelings, but wouldn’t have to if they themselves had strong political or religious principles. This could mean sex-segregation in toilets, but also railway carriages, public bars, private clubs, and anywhere else. Including who they choose to employ. We’re potentially back to pre-1960s men-only sex discrimination rules. (And I don’t think most women would be happy with that.)

    It also means that property owners and employers can introduce segregation and discrimination for anything else. “All our toilets are for left-wing SJW-supporting customers and employees only.” Anyone they feel uncomfortable sharing a space with (or a place of employment), they can ask to have excluded. Race, religion, politics, tattoos, football supporters from rival clubs, whatever. You’ll get all the “safe space” and “free speech zone” malarky where people holding or expressing politically incorrect opinions are banned. (After all, social gender-signalling is just another variety of free expression.)

    Starting a “segregation war” where ideological opponents or hated undesirables are banned from various spaces is probably a bad idea. It probably shouldn’t be illegal to discriminate and segregate (like with ‘smoking’ and ‘non-smoking’ bars before the ban), but members of a free/liberal society that believe in the Harm Principle shouldn’t want to.

  • Nullius in Verba (October 17, 2018 at 1:20 pm), the ‘Harm Principle’ does not give the immediate answer you suggest. Unisex single toilets (e.g. on trains, as in your example), where a sole occupant of an entire toilet is secured from the external area at any given time, are not analogous to multi-cubicle toilets where a significant part of the privacy is the whole space. This is why such unisex single toilets have not been seen as an issue in the past, whereas any police force statistics can tell you that the other kind are one of the places where crimes happen. You might as well say there was no reason why the man-who-said-he-was-a-woman should not have been sent to the otherwise female-only jail, since his merely being there caused no harm – until of course, he chose to.

  • […] do not wish to argue either for or against changing that Act. I said my piece on all that two days ago. However, I would like to highlight one particular point that Ms Hayton […]

  • Paul Marks

    This is the sort of thing Mrs May (hopefully soon to be the EX Prime Minister) likes to push. Ordinary people have more important things to think about than all this Frankfurt School of Marxism rubbish.

    Natalie is quite correct – if private organisations (commercial or not commercial) wish to get involved in this stuff (“cissy genders” or whatever) that should be up to them. And if they wish to not get involved in all this Frankfurt School of Marxism stuff from the “education system” (the leftist brainwashing centres that still call themselves schools and universities – and the “mainstream media”) – that should also be up to them.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “This is why such unisex single toilets have not been seen as an issue in the past, whereas any police force statistics can tell you that the other kind are one of the places where crimes happen.”

    Show me!

    Here are mine:
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13178-018-0335-z
    https://transequality.org/police-departments

    “You might as well say there was no reason why the man-who-said-he-was-a-woman should not have been sent to the otherwise female-only jail”

    Anyone sent to jail needs a risk assessment done to ensure they can be kept there securely – with no risk to other prisoners and at no risk from other prisoners. Being a violent offender or having a history of sex crimes, and being on remand for rape are all valid reasons for keeping them separated from potential victims. Claiming to be transgender isn’t.

    Exactly the same principle applies to women who are a risk to other female prisoners, and men who are a risk to other male prisoners. (A lot of men get raped in prison too.) I’ve got no problem with people who want to prevent prisoners harming other prisoners generally – I do when they only bring the issue up for certain target groups.

  • I’ve got no problem with people who want to prevent prisoners harming other prisoners generally – I do when they only bring the issue up for certain target groups.

    The problem is not bringing the issue up only for certain target groups but, on the contrary, suppressing it for those certain target groups.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The problem is not bringing the issue up only for certain target groups but, on the contrary, suppressing it for those certain target groups.”

    Agreed. It shouldn’t be an issue at all, in either direction!

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