PODCAST: Heather Brunskell-Evans wants to talk about the idea of ‘trans kids’

Heather Brunskell-Evans was the National Spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party Policy on Ending Sexual Violence until she started asking critical questions about “trans kids.” In this episode, Meghan Murphy talks to her about her perspective and the response from the Party.

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As the debate around gender identity intensifies, it seems more and more people are asking questions about the impact of transgender ideology and legislation on women, children, and our understanding of gender under patriarchy, more broadly. At the same time, those who do speak out or challenge the ideology behind the concept of transgenderism (or connected policies and practices) are being punished for doing so.

Heather Brunskell-Evans is a Senior Research Fellow at King’s College in London and was the National Spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party Policy on Ending Sexual Violence until recently. After appearing on Moral Maze — a BBC Radio 4 series — she was removed from the position of Spokeswoman for the Party. Students at Heather’s university also no-platformed her, cancelling a scheduled talk on pornography and the sexualization of young women supposedly because her views on “transgender health… would violate the student union’s ‘Safe Space’ policy.”

All this came as a result of Heather challenging the idea of so-called “trans kids” and the practice of transitioning young people on the basis that they are “born in the wrong body.”

Heather is a co-founder of Resist Porn Culture and co-editor of a new book called Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body. I spoke with her over the phone from her home in London.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • therealcie

    Something that I’ve become very aware of in the past year is the vehemence of many of these “trans activists” even to people who are sympathetic to those who are transgender but who want to be sure that such a serious procedure is not performed without being really sure that it is the only way the person may find happiness. This isn’t like getting a tattoo that one regrets. It is a procedure which completely changes a person’s body. They also shout down those who had the procedure done and later regretted it.
    I am completely gobsmacked by these parents who take their children to foreign countries to have the procedure performed.
    I’ve always been sympathetic to transgender people, possibly in part because I’ve always been bullied and an outcast myself. The current crop of “trans activists”, however, are not like the trans people I’ve known, who simply wanted to be accepted and treated kindly.
    Identity politics is not helping anybody.

    • Sionna B.

      I don’t think many of them are rational about it, that’s part of the problem. I think they are/exhibit a particularly virulent form of narcissism that desperately needs attention, and they get it in the most extreme way possible; a way which allows them to be victim and abuser all in one. I think it works really well for many men who also quite enjoy humiliation. That might sound odd, but I have an ex who was trans(vestite was the term then) and I observed that his autogynephilia was related to humiliation for ‘being’ a woman while dressed up, a gender role he held in contempt. A strange combo of contempt, humiliation at behaving like a woman, and extreme need for attention. and I mean extreme. Violence was merely another form of attention seeking behaviour and fits right in with the way many tims act when ‘calling out’ feminists. I don’t think they are remotely interested in discussing any of this rationally. And because they are narcissists, it’s easy for them to sway women to support them. It’s a toxic combination of personality disorders and it’s being treated as if it were rational, which is what the intimidators want. imho.

  • Alienigena

    Paraphrasing the speaker.

    “Who are these children who feel that they are in the wrong body? This is a new idea … that we can be born into the wrong body. With young people … this idea is in all of their social media. It is promulgated by organizations, for instance, Gendered Intelligence. Suggest to children that if they don’t conform to the gender to which they have been assigned they might have been born into the wrong body. It is nonsense on many levels just in terms of science.”

    Why are the same left-leaning organizations who foam at the mouth about climate science denial (and by the way I am a bit of a foamer) also not exercised about the denial of biological science (a life science, but a science) around this whole notion that people are assigned biological sex and can just switch sex. Where are all the medical professionals, medical and biological researchers, high school teachers, policy wonks, non-profit organizations who supposedly promote science and scientific literacy amongst school age children at least, on the issue of transgenderism and the anti-science rhetoric spouted by trans activists and allies.

    The answer is I guess that they are a bunch of cowards. This comes down to the right of children to be protected by society from the malevolence and ignorance of adults. And western society seems to be failing children and handing their fate over to a bunch of abusive assholes.

    • OldPolarBear

      I think I have mentioned in these threads before having gone through much of childhood and adolescence with what is now called “gender confusion.” I also had considered that it was just that I was gay. To help sort all this out and other things, I went to a therapist. This was circa 1975 and I was just shy of 20. I brought up at one point whether I might be “transexual” (correct term at the time). Like a decent therapist should, he listened and helped me walk through thinking about it. If I really wanted to, I would have to live day-to-day dressed and presenting as a woman for some period (maybe a year, can’t remember for sure) and do so on a day-to-day, full-time basis (not just “doing drag”). I would have to have regular therapy sessions. And then more stuff and more time, I don’t remember what all for how long. I sat there for a bit and said, “Nah, I’m good. And gay, thanks.”

      Nowadays, he would probably just whip off a prescription for hormones and some other shit and get me scheduled for surgery a week from Thursday. I shudder to think, and I feel so bad now for people who need to seek help like this.

    • Sionna B.

      I can understand a bit of why it is challenging for the ‘cowards’ to act–from what I have seen of many of the tims, they are histrionic attention-seeking narcissists who will do anything to be at the centre of attention. When they are setting off air horns at public political meetings or stink bombs, coughing and playing loud music at speeches (Derrick Jensen at Eugene Public Library a few weeks ago) or screaming about being victimized and hated, it’s not easy to speak up to that unless one is well prepared for the attacks. We all have to figure out ways of coping with their public verbal assaults or we will have a hard time speaking out while being screamed at.

    • Serai 1

      The idea of adults promulgating social concepts that end up victimizing children is hardly something confined to Western culture or society. It’s been with us for millenia. This isn’t a Western thing – it’s a patriarchal thing, and that goes back long before “Western society” ever came about.

  • Alienigena

    I wonder if illiteracy will be the next thing that is considered a feminine trait, given all the magical thinking around what makes one a woman. After all, two thirds of the illiterate adults on the planet are women.

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/oct/20/two-thirds-of-worlds-illiterate-adults-are-women-report-finds

    Are there any depths to which trans activists and their allies won’t sink in order to keep biological females down? Seems unlikely they will start promoting illiteracy as a feminine trait, but I think no platforming of feminists, because of the views they have of or the things they have said about the trans identity, would have seemed ludicrous even ten years ago. Apparently TIM’s make superior women, as they lack what makes natal women ‘so defective’ well all the while claiming that they are in fact female. So I am sure in the Brave New World of Trans those who are biological males but claim to be women will still be regarded as superior to biological females who are categorized as women.

    Among the list of reasons that girls are denied education from this source is the fact they are ‘girls’. So, yeah it still matters and it still disadvantages girls in a number of areas including in education.
    https://reliefweb.int/report/world/13-reasons-why-girls-are-not-school-international-day-girl-child

    Yes, I am being facetious about femininity being associated with lesser intelligence or unteachability or whatever reasons were used in the past or are still used in the present to deny girls an education.

    An interesting history of girls in the UK’s formal education system (including the experience of girls of African and Asian descent).
    https://www.bl.uk/sisterhood/articles/girls-in-formal-education

    Historically in western Europe it appears religious men were both for and against education for girls.
    “John Knox … took a vehemently anti-female stance in his treatise The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women … Luther himself was very supportive and set the stage for … women’s education, insisting on compulsory schooling for all boys and all girls on primary and secondary levels, and advanced education for qualified girls … Luther also noted the need for female teachers.”
    https://cws.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/cws/article/download/11719/10802

    • OldPolarBear

      I’m afraid that your idea about illiteracy may not be all that far-fetched. If people can insist that a middle-aged man can not only change sex but also his age to become a 6 YO girl (Stephonknee), or that a grown man with a diaper fetish qualifies for reasonable accomodation (some community college somewhere), well then …

      • Alienigena

        Actually it was not a community college that accommodated the man with a diaper fetish but a university, Vancouver Island University.

        • OldPolarBear

          Yes, thanks! I should have looked it up but was being lazy.

        • Sionna B.

          What? Really? Guess he wants his own endowment, jealous that Aaron Devor got it at UVic.

  • Goody Helena

    Has anyone worked out yet what the master plan of this all is? I refuse to believe that these MANY incidents of trans takeover are not being orchestrated in some way. It’s beyond coincidence that so many different bodies, institutions, organisations and individuals are all suddenly backing a batshit insane agenda. It’s a war on women, to be sure, but what is the end goal?

    • Sionna B.

      Big Pharma is part of it. The American billionaire family, the Pritzkers, is pouring money into ‘the world’s first endowment for a chair in transgender studies’ at the University of Victoria. Lifelong treatments are big bucks for them. They own a big pharma outfit.

    • Serai 1

      Oh, I don’t think any grand conspiracy is necessary. Human beings are batshit monkeys with brain cancer – we really don’t need masterminds in order to cook up heinous shit to do to each other.

  • will

    Most university libraries will get a book that they don’t have in the system if a student requests it. Maybe anyone here with student status can request it at their university library?

    • OldPolarBear

      It’s worth a try. I might even try the request form on my public library’s website. I did that for Julie Bindel’s anti-prostitution book and they got it! Big price difference though. But it can’t hurt to try.

  • Every time I read about transed children I am horrified bc when I was young I was definetly transgender – complete with avid desire to hide my sex, aversion to all bodily things feminine, male clothing, adapting a male name, etc. But problem is, I know why did it happen. I knew it even then.
    Partly because as an autistic person I have problems with the very concept of gender (as it’s totally a social thing and consists of many subtle self-presentations that are still hard for me to grasp) – this part I couldn’t put into words back then, as I had no diagnosis, but I certainly felt it.
    And partly because I felt that being a woman meant being third class being, someone who is worse in many aspects. My female body meant I am not one who is listened, my opinions are muted, my voice is irrelevant and my primary life goal is to marry and have kids. And that did not need any words besides those I used, because it was not some abstract knowledge, it was experience.
    Because as soon as I started behaving like a boy, as soon as I started presenting like a boy to my male classmates – I started to gain social weight between my peers. To gain respect and access to being not perfect (? – this I have troubles explaining, but boys would say “you can’t do it, you’re a girl” about many interesting things; you say “but I’m a boy” and fight for it a bit and they agree you are and you can do what you want) a boy naturally has. The teachers asked me to go to therapy, but my peers allowed me to play the way I wanted and do the things I wanted, and didn’t bully me the way they did when I was a girl.
    That is why I insisted on being a boy, not a girl.

    But the thing is, I was still a transgender according to diagnostic criteria. Because they don’t look much into the roots of the problem, and I have a long history of not wanting to be a girl, dismorphophobia, self-hatred etc.

    Growing up I accepted the troubles of being a woman. I decided to do at least something to change the world instead of adapting to its injustices. I eschewed transgenderism and embraced feminism.
    I am truly horrified when I think someone would’ve given me medicine to stop my puberty, then mutilate my body and re-make me into a man instead of giving me good advice how to accept being a woman.

  • And the strong association between our bodies and bad things that happen to us. Boys don’t grow tits that can be grabbed or ogled, boys don’t have menses (so don’t have to hide them and avoid mentioning them), boys are the norm and we are deviation.
    There are so many pre-teen and teenage girls who want to be boys/dream of cutting breasts off or just being flat-chested, etc that is studied in pedagogical university among other teenage issues a teacher has to deal with.

    Yet now in some oh so progressive countries this knowledge is ignored and those girls face a real danger of being mutilated.

  • Spike Robinson

    What a calm, brave, reasonable person Heather is. She is a true hero in the face of anti-scientific McCarthyism. In solidarity, I’ve bought her book.

  • Serai 1

    I deeply resented everything that made being female difficult or unhappy or dangerous, but despite having no truck with high heels (don’t like torture, thanks) and makeup (yeah, I’m gonna pay hundreds of dollars for colored mud to rub on my face), I liked pretty clothes and having long hair. So I compromised by dressing in beautiful colors, satin and velvet, and jewelry, and being a stubborn, take-no-bullshit bitch while doing it. And still do, to this day. 🙂