April 18th 2020


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Justice at last: Cardinal Pell set free

EDITORIAL Australia needs an economic reset after covid19 crisis

CANBERRA OBSERVED The very young can still be 'taken care of' during the covid19 outbreak

RURAL AFFAIRS A national disgrace: Our great land sale

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Use detention centres to help deal with covid19

GENDER POLITICS Do we really need to ask, what is a woman?

REFLECTION A chance for a change of heart: Covid19 as Memento mori

FAMILY Who let the kids out? The stay-at-home parent and covid19

ECONOMICS The oil cartel: The lesson for other industries from OEC

HEALTH Lessons from the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic

CULTURE AND SOCIETY There is a war: The battle in and for hearts

ASIAN AFFAIRS What makes China different is not the Chinese but the CCP

HUMOUR Locked down in Covi Town

MUSIC Great, er, swan songs

CINEMA+TV Staying in; staying sane

BOOK REVIEW Not our Robin Hood

BOOK REVIEW At home among others

POETRY

LETTERS

AS THE WORLD TURNS

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL FREE: The commentary file

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GENDER POLITICS
Do we really need to ask, what is a woman?


by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, April 18, 2020

Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull is a mum of four and women’s rights activist from Britain. Going by the name Posie Parker, she has been vigorously attacked, called a transphobe and removed from Facebook for expressing her view that transwomen are not women and asking the question, “What is a Woman?”

Another reason to weep

Keen-Minshull had billboards erec­ted stating the dictionary definition of “woman” as “adult human female” that were ordered to be taken down as causing transgender people to feel unsafe.

So, what is a “woman”? Is being a woman defined by biology or does it include a biological male who identifies as a woman?

When a transgender male-to-female was included as a finalist in the NSW Regional Woman of the Year Award, Kirralie Smith of binary.org.au asked the Minister for Women in New South Wales and the Premier that very question. She reported that neither could answer.

British science teacher and trans­gender activist Debbie Hayton, who identifies as a transwoman, acknowledges that transwomen are men. She says allowing men to simply identify as women puts women at risk, and she points out that “women’s spaces are not protected because all men present a hazard, but [because] a few do”.

XandraJ (who describes herself as a “Grumpy diabetic with lots of thoughts. PhD candidate researching violence and the supernatural”) says: “Questions like ‘what is a woman?’ are difficult for me because abstract categories require more consideration and nuance than most people are willing to grant.”

Well, while she gives more consideration and nuance to the question, how do we resolve the very pressing everyday injustices that arise from treating male-to-female transgender persons as having the same rights as biological women? Those who hold that view need to answer the following questions.

Is it fair to oblige biological women and girls to accept males who identify as female in their private safe spaces such as toilets, showers and change rooms? Should a 40-year-old male who identifies as female be entitled to share toilets, change rooms and showers with 14-year-old girls?

Should women’s-only gyms and clubs, domestic violence shelters and other women’s safe spaces be obliged to give biological men who identify as women access to their facilities?

Should female beauty parlour wor­kers face discrimination charges for failing to provide intimate services such as body waxing to biological men who identify as women? A Canadian male-to-female transgender person, Jessica Yaniv, who has not had reassignment surgery, took 16 beauticians to a human-rights tri­bunal because they did not want to perform a Brazilian wax on male genitals.

Is it fair to oblige women and girls to accept men and boys who identify as female in their sporting competitions? Won’t such acceptance lead to males who identify as female dominating in female sports?

How can a law to protect women against discrimination in employment guarantee jobs reserved for biological women if a man only has to self-identify as a woman to be eligible to
claim the right to these jobs? Will this person be regarded as being on the male or female side of the gender pay gap? Should employers face legal sanctions for failing to allow biological men who identify as women to access jobs and scholarships reserved for women under women’s affirmative action programs?

How is medical research measuring the different responses of biological women and men in medical trials to proceed if identity documents fail to record people as biologically male or female? Should medical researchers face legal sanctions for refusing to include a biological man who identifies as a woman in female medical trials?

Should biological women be found to be discriminating against transsexual male-to-females if they ask to have only biological females carry out intimate examinations and treatments such as pap smears?

Will health professionals face legal sanctions for failing to detect a serious medical issue in a patient because that patient identifies as other than their biological sex? This affects both males and females. What if a medical professional does not detect prostate cancer in a male patient who identifies as female?

A female-male transsexual in the United States presented to a hospital as a male with severe abdominal pain. This caused a delay in ascertaining that the patient was actually a biological female and was pregnant. The patient’s baby was stillborn.

Should males who identify as female be accommodated in female prisons? What about the very real, documented danger to women in women’s prisons if biological men who
identify as women are housed in women’s prisons?

Under laws regulating police searches, for example the Victorian Control of Weapons Act, a strip search must be conducted by a police officer of the same sex or gender as the person being searched. Does this allow a male-to-female police officer to conduct intimate body searches on biological female suspects?

This is not just a matter for people who are transgender. It will affect everyone, especially women and girls. Anyone who supports this erasure of the sex-based rights of women and girls needs to answer the many questions it raises. Or are they not in favour of equality of rights?




























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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm