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A photographic exhibition at the Hammer Museum, University of California Los Angeles, shows a comparative study between teenage girls and adult male-to-female transsexuals 

Last year, I was nominated for the Stonewall Journalist of the Year award. This seemed fair enough since I write prolifically about sexuality and sexual identity. But I guessed that Stonewall would not dare give me the prize, because a powerful lobby affiliated with the lesbian and gay communities had been hounding me for five years. Six weeks later I, along with a police escort, walked past a huge demonstration of transsexuals and their supporters, shouting "Bindel the Bigot". Despite campaigning against gender discrimination, rape, child abuse and domestic violence for 30 years, I have been labelled a bigot because of a column I wrote in 2004 that questioned whether a sex change would make someone a woman or simply a man without a penis. Subsequently, I was "no platformed" by the National Union of Students Women's Campaign, a privilege previously afforded to fascist groups such as the BNP. As a leading feminist writer, I now find that a number of organisations are too frightened to ask me to speak at public events for fear of protests by transsexual lobbyists. 

The 2004 column was about a Canadian male-to-female transsexual who had taken a rape crisis centre to court over its decision not to invite her to be a counsellor for rape victims. Feminists tend to be critical of traditional gender roles because they benefit men and oppress women. Transsexualism, by its nature, promotes the idea that it is "natural" for boys to play with guns and girls to play with Barbie dolls. The idea that gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed is the antithesis of feminism. 

I wrote: "Those who ‘transition' seem to become stereotypical in their appearance — f**k-me shoes and birds' nest hair for the boys; beards, muscles and tattoos for the girls. Think about a world inhabited just by transsexuals. It would look like the set of Grease."

Gender dysphoria (GD) was invented in the 1950s by reactionary male psychiatrists in an era when men were men and women were doormats. It is a term used to describe someone who feels strongly that they should belong to the opposite sex and that they were born in the wrong body. GD has no proven genetic or physiological basis. 

A review for the Guardian in 2005 of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham's Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery was clinically effective. It warned that the results of many gender reassignment studies were unsound because researchers lost track of more than half of the participants. 

The past decade has seen an increase in the number of people diagnosed as transsexual. There are now 1,500-1,600 new referrals a year to one of the handful of gender identity clinics in Britain. About 1,200 receive treatment on the NHS with the rest going private, Thailand being the main country of choice. The largest clinic, at Charing Cross Hospital in London, saw 780 new referrals last year. The NHS carried out some 150 operations in the last year (up from about  100 in 2005-2006). Apart from Thailand, the country with the highest number of sex-change operations is Iran where, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. When sex-change surgery is performed on gay men, they become, in the eyes of the gender defenders, heterosexual women. Transsexual surgery becomes modern-day aversion therapy for gays and lesbians. 

In the West, however, supporting the diagnosis and availability of surgical intervention is seen as a view right-thinking liberals should adopt. But no oppressed group ever insisted its emotional distress was the sole basis for the establishment of a right. Indeed, transsexuals, along with those seeking IVF and cosmetic surgery, are using the NHS for the pursuit of happiness not health. 

Treatment is brutal and the results far from perfect. Male-to-female surgery involves removal of the penis and scrotum and the construction of a "vagina" using the skin from the phallus, breast implants inserted and the trachea shaved. Painful laser treatment to remove hair in the beard area and elsewhere and cosmetic surgery to "feminise" the face is increasingly common. 

For female-to-male surgery, breasts, womb and ovaries are removed. Testosterone injections, usually prescribed shortly after the initial diagnosis, result in the growth of facial hair and deepening of the voice. 

Recent legislation (the Gender Recognition Act, which allows people to change sex and be issued with a new birth certificate) will have a profoundly negative effect on the human rights of women and children. Since 2004, it has been possible for those diagnosed with GD to be assigned the sex of their choice, providing that the person has lived as the opposite sex for two years, has no plans to change back again and can provide evidence of the above. 

It is not necessary to have undergone hormone treatment or surgery. In other words, a pre-operative man could apply for a job in a women — only rape counselling service and, if refused on grounds of his sex, could take the employer to court on the grounds that "he" is legally a "she". 

A definition of transsexualism used by a number of transsexual rights organisations reads:

Students who are gender non-conforming are those whose gender expression (or outward appearance) does not follow traditional gender roles: "feminine boys," "masculine girls" and students who are androgynous, for example. It can also include students who look the way boys and girls are expected to look but participate in activities that are gender nonconforming, like a boy who does ballet. The term "transgender youth" can be used as an umbrella term for all students whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth and/or whose gender expression is non-stereotypical. 

According to this definition, a girl who plays football is trans-sexual.

A number of transsexuals are beginning to admit that opting for surgery ruined their lives. "I was a messed-up young gay man," says Claudia McClean, a male-to-female transsexual who opted for surgery 20 years ago. "If I had been offered an alternative to a sex change, I would have jumped at the chance." A number of transsexuals I have spoken to tell me how easy it is to be referred for surgery if they trot out a cliche such as, "I felt trapped in the wrong body."

Transsexualism is becoming so normalised that increasing numbers of children are being referred to clinics by their parents. Recently, an 18-month-old baby in Denmark was diagnosed as suffering from GD. Last summer, a primary school headteacher held an assembly to explain that a nine-year-old boy would return as a girl. 

Ten years ago, there were an average of six child and adolescent referrals per year in Britain, but in 2008 numbers had increased six-fold. Although the minimum age for sex-change surgery is 18, puberty-blocking hormones can be prescribed to those as young as 16, and transsexual rights lobbyists want that age to be reduced to 13. 

James Bellringer is a surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital, which has the largest gender identity clinic in the UK. He believes that children should be allowed to self-diagnose as GD. "It is not the doctors saying, ‘You are a transsexual, let's get you on hormones,' it is the children saying, ‘I don't like my breasts, I feel like a girl'." 

There is, however, a dispute within the medical profession about whether puberty-blockers should be prescribed. Some doctors say that children need to experience puberty to know whether they are misplaced in their bodies. I would describe preventing puberty as a modern form of child abuse. Two-thirds of those claiming to be, or diagnosed as, transsexual during childhood become lesbian or gay in later life. "I would be happy living now as a gay man, comfortable in the body I was born with," says McClean. "The prejudice against me for being an effeminate boy who fancied other boys was too much to bear. Changing sex meant I could be normal."

Medical science cannot turn a biological male into a biological female — it can only alter the appearance of body parts. A trans-sexual "woman" will always be a biological male. A male-to-female transsexual serving a prison sentence for manslaughter and rape won the right to be relocated to a women's jail. Her lawyers argued that her rights were being violated by being unable to live in her role as a woman in a men's jail. Large numbers of female prisoners have experienced childhood abuse and rape and will fail to appreciate the reasons behind a biological man living among them, particularly one who still has the penis with which he raped a woman. (Some transsexuals choose to retain their genitals.) 

There is a handful of radicals in the world today who have dared to challenge the diagnosis of transsexualism. Those who do are called "transphobic" and treated with staggering vitriol. There is a form of cultural relativism at play here. Defenders of female genital mutilation or forced marriage often use the argument that such practices can be justified within certain communities (i.e. non-Western cultures), despite the fact that they serve to dehumanise women, because it is the "truth" of that particular community. After I had been shortlisted for the Stonewall award, scores of blogs and message boards filled with a call to arms against me. 

On one, "Genocide and Julie Bindel", a poster wrote, "What would Stonewall's reaction have been had a BME [black and minority ethnic] group nominated Ayatollah Khomeini as Politician of the Year? She is an active oppressor of trans people. I hope she dies an agonising and premature death of cancer in the very near future. It would make the world a better place."

I had some support, some from those who had also experienced a transsexual-led witchhunt. I heard from post-operative trans-sexuals who had been railroaded into surgery and now regretted it. "Do not publish my name," said one, "but if anyone questions the validity of sex-change treatment you are sent to Coventry by the ‘community' elders." 

A police officer who, during the course of his duty, was unfairly accused by transsexuals of "transphobia" was driven to a breakdown by their vicious campaign. An eminent medical ethicist who had dared to defend a fellow professional who had questioned the diagnosis of GD from a scientific point of view almost lost his career and reputation. And several women from feminist organisations have been bullied and vilified for challenging the "right" of male-to-female transsexuals to work in women-only organisations. 

Dr Caillean McMahon, a US-based forensic psychiatrist, defines herself not as a transsexual but as a "woman of operative history. The trans community has an unforgiving global sort of condemnation towards critical outsiders. I have to be suspicious that the insistence of many of those demanding to enter it is not for the purpose of celebrating the spirit and nature of women, but to seek an enforced validation, extracted by force in a legal or political manner." With the normalisation of transsexual surgery comes an acceptance of other forms of surgery to correct a mental disorder. In 2000, Russell Reid, a psychiatrist who has diagnosed hundreds of people with GD, was involved in controversy over the condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), where sufferers can experience a desperate urge to rid themselves of a limb. Reid referred two BDD patients to a surgeon for leg amputations. "When I first heard of people wanting amputations, it seemed bizarre in the extreme," he said in a TV documentary. "But then I thought, ‘I see transsexuals and they want healthy parts of their body removed in order to adjust to their idealised body image,' and so I think that was the connection for me. I saw that people wanted to have their limbs off with equally as much degree of obsession and need."

In a world where equality between men and women was reality, transsexualism would not exist. The diagnosis of GD needs to be questioned and challenged. We live in a society that, on the whole, respects the human rights of others. Accepting a situation where the surgeon's knife and lifelong hormonal treatment are replacing the acceptance of difference is a scandal. Sex-change surgery is unnecessary mutilation. Using human rights laws to normalise trans-sexualism has resulted in a backward step in the feminist campaign for gender equality. Perhaps we should give up and become men.

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November 16th, 2015
3:11 PM
My question is why? The operation is incomplete, and disphoria itself is the human condition. We all feel bad about something about our bodies. So you get the treatment, but afterwards, you find that your gender disphoria is replaced by some other kind of craving or dissatisfaction. This is the first time I've heard of body disphoria - the craving for amputations. At first, I thougth it was parody. In the case of body disphoria, amputation of a limb is clearly mutilation. But one is tarred as a bigot and witch hunted if it is pointed out that gender reassignment surgery is only that - superficial surgery, and maybe the whole industry needs to be questioned - not because it seeks to change gender, but because it may be a false promise when the change is incomplete. Everybody would probably experiment with sex change if the change were 100% complete (and reversible) down to the molecular level. Do some kind of futuristic genetic operation and change the chromosomes, natural production of appropriate sex hormones, geneticals that form by themselves after the treatment, self lubricating private parts, changed brain structures, etc.

November 10th, 2015
3:11 AM
Someone said: " Transfemales do not need to be assimulated into the cisfemale world. This is their world...their creation. The transfemale world is different and this needs to be well understood and communicated." I don't agree. I am MTF and : 1. I want to live among females like a female and be accepted by them. 2. My body changes are a part of myself. I know it is dangerous, I know the science can not make me cis woman, I know I can die from it and I know that I don't want to look like many TS with tatoos and freaky staff. as this is not normal for cis woman, I just want to look like as close as possible to cis woman and have a peace of my inner self. 3. I want to be normal and accepted. 4. I know who I am and I know my sould is female even if my genetics and body is not, and never will. Mayby one day will meet the maked and beg him for mercy to have a chance to reborn as a cis female. If had a chance I would go for it 100% percent, as I have also strong feeling towards giving life and having child. Weird, but true even I can not. How do you classify this? 5. I don't like term trans at all. I like to be just accepted like female and called being female. I am not a plant to be named as a trans.

August 16th, 2015
2:08 AM
Thank You Julie for having the courage to speak the truth. I was hounded out of the activist community in northern England for questioning transexualism. I have watched the Feminist community tear itself apart over this issue.I have seen ANYONE who even dares to question transexulism totally attacked and destroyed. Funny we are never allowed to hear about the folk who have changed their minds and are not mutilated. I suggest we send all the Trannies and their fanatical supporters to Iran or Russia where it is a crime to be Lesbian or Gay and were Lesbian & Gay people are forced to have trans surgery to 'cure'them, Funny no one is talking about how deeply homophobic and downright sexist transsexualism is. And really sad that if I was a little girl now I would be being diagnosed as Trans because I was a tomboy and refused to wear dresses, etc. And sickening that young Lesbian & Gay people are being pressured by the so called 'Genderqueer' community to be transexual and not Lesbian or Gay.

Katherine Anderson
July 12th, 2015
7:07 PM
Terribly argued. This "feminist" is doing great harm. As a ciswoman I want to express that I disagree with both the author's conclusion and the poor reasoning she uses to arrive there. She has become the enemy she once fought against, the new oppressor.

June 21st, 2015
8:06 AM
This kind of view is what gives trans people a bad name. I know that I just feel wrong in my body image. I look at myself and I hate myself. When I dress as a woman (not a prostitute) I wear normal clothes. I wear womens products and perfumes. I know your point and so does every transwoman that they will always be "a man". But they can do their very best to feel as comfortable and normal as possible. Its so depressing knowing I'll have to live as a man all my life. I can't see any way out of it. I don't want to disappoint my family. I think that I'd be better off dead than coming out. So I dress in secret. Which makes me feel a mixture of ashamed and relieved when I find something that I look passable in. And I have a slim feminine frame! But there are poor transwoman who have to cope with huge broad bodies and size12 feet. And they are so mentally strong to deal with this.

May 31st, 2015
3:05 PM
I have lived my life as a very masculine male. But I have felt I should have been born a female. When I dress in female attire, I am not pink and fluffy. I like to wear leggings, tunic and knee boots. Make-up I enjoy but it's not essential. I feel being a woman is in essence how one feels inside. At 48 years old this year, I have suppressed my female feelings for a long time. This year is the first time I have decided to let go of my fight and be who I feel I should be. A masculine female.

May 19th, 2015
7:05 PM
Ciswomen are to transfemales as Men are to Ciswomen... OPPRESSORS...DOMINATORS! But yet they just don´t get it! There are many transfemales who ARE the nature and spirit of women...yet the arrow in the eye blinds. Transfemales do not need to be assimulated into the cisfemale world. This is their world...their creation. The transfemale world is different and this needs to be well understood and communicated. Transwomen are a separate gender with their own herstory...of pain and struggle since birth. We get it... and we are moving onward towards building our own world based upon our realties and triumphs. We do not need the miserable and continuous self pitying grumbling of ciswomen who can not accept themselves for who you are and live onwards. In all realities they should really question...(not those who are in the home working their heads off maintaining the hard realities...) but those who have nothing better to do than travel around the world crying how unfair their lives are and how much they would love to be men!!! Just do it! Just get it... it is envy! Real women understand the power of their female gender...that it is much more than what men have. Real women understand...through biological processes that men are testosterone created and in the end of their lives the testosterone is cut off and they return to female...estrogen dominance of their bodies. Men are second plane...testosterone created... and testosterone debilitated by its absence in the final years. Women... real women can see their place as first and front line... can be proud to see that "FEMAlE" is the basis of all creation en utero. Female you begin and female you will end even though your exterior is masculine. Estrogen dominates!!! Testosteron is used in our bodies to create estrogen...the feminizing your studies. Stop being a cry baby...rise fight the fight to help other women be happy. Fight to teach the feminine spirit...not the combative aggressive male spirit that separates and destroys. Together... we shine appreciating our differences and giving love...compassion... which builds strength in our children and future for our communities. Stop the transbashing.... we are equal as humans to you ciswomen. We are not wanting to take your place.... only occupy a space by you side... to live and breathe each day in peace. Be our us how to live in peace...defend the weak...lift them up if you have so much power to offer! Get it? Stop being babies!!! Grow up to be real women! Grit it and gut it... the baby comes out!!!

April 2nd, 2015
10:04 AM
There were no valid points in her argument at all. No positive comments on men or transsexuals either. In her view it's all about whether you were born with a second x and are worthy of "the struggle." The neigh sayers are simply threatened by the lines of gender getting tossed out of the window. It's just very sad to see inequality being promoted by people who claim to hate it. Nearly everyone else is satisfied with their gender, there's no reason that I shouldn't be able to be as well. Bottom line: We're here to stay and the subtle differences that people attempt to divide us on will not stand up to ever advancing medical techniques.

March 16th, 2015
11:03 PM
And what about me? I have been diagnosed with gd. I WANT the surgery. Because I personally feel that I need to have a vulva and vagina. I HAVE phantom sensations down there. I don't barely even want to think about what is down there right now. I am also stable. I don't dress like a prostitute, I'm a major gun and knife nut, I consider myself conservative, and actually rather normal. I have my own dreams. But in all of them I am allowed to be me and to make my own decisions without hindrance nor pressuring. I want the right to choose whether I get the surgery or not without anyone but me having any say in the matter. Once I get the surgery, it'll just be one less thing to worry about. If anyone has anything to say against me on the matter, I'll say this: 'Who are you and what does it matter to you? If you want to get involved, fine, but don't you dare tell me how to live my life or what to do with my body, cause if you do, I'll micromanage your life to the point where you feel death is the only escape. Often, too often, that is what people like me wind up feeling: Trapped. Let us be us and we'll let you be you. ____J

February 28th, 2015
10:02 PM
Ms Bindel should come and witness the effects of denying surgical help to trans people. In my career in healthcare, I've dealt with people who have literally hacked their genitals off. If gender is a social construct, then why the obsession with having the world neatly boxed into 'men' and 'women'. This article isn't just evil. It's profoundly stupid.

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