When they say “Transwomen are women”

  1. This is an extraordinary claim – how do you justify it?
  2. At what point in their transition do you say they become women?
  3. What is a woman, then? 

This is THE BIG LIE. Men are men, women are women, and the two categories are separate. No sleight of hand in language can change that. It is intended as a thought terminating cliche

The question, “what is a woman?” is at the heart of this issue. 

Most people who say TWAW don’t actually mean it. They mean something like “transwomen should be treated as if they were women, unless there are good reasons not to” (but this is a poor slogan). They also think that “transwoman” means “person on a hormone regime, post-operative”. The Stonewall definition of transwoman doesn’t require this and in fact, the overwhelming majority of transwomen don’t have surgery. The “Trans Umbrella” actually includes everyone except feminine women and masculine men, apparently.

Gender recognition, self-ID and next steps | COUNSEL | The ...

Once we get past that, the first thing to realise is that if we are using the word “woman” in defining things like accessing rights, it needs an objective definition rather than a subjective one. As an obvious example, women still have slightly different pension rules and determining whether someone is a woman must be a matter of fact not opinion. 

Usual answers are things like “a woman is a person who identifies as a woman” (see below) or “someone who takes on the role of a woman” (a circular argument, one that is clearly regressive, what is that role?) or even “someone who takes on the passive role in sex” (Really? So is a bottom in a gay relationship a woman? What about women who like to take the lead?) Other more esoteric answers are “anyone who uses female pronouns is a woman” (must be hard for tables in France, they are all feminine) which reduces being a woman to a performative role – again, very regressive and a real safeguarding risk. 

The simple answer to this question is, of course, that a woman is an adult human female. A female is evolved to produce, all being well, large sessile gametes (ova) and males produce small motile gametes (sperm). This distinction is true across a wide range of species of anisogamous animals, including all mammals (does, sows, bitches & mares are animal equivalents of the word “woman”), most vertebrates, many other animals and a huge variety of plants. And no, it isn’t an insult to women to compare them to animals: humans are animals.

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