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The problem with ‘trans women are women’ Is it any wonder people are confused?

Humans aren’t fish (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Humans aren’t fish (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


February 10, 2023   7 mins

Once upon a time, pollsters would phone you up and ask how satisfied you were with the railways on a scale of one to ten, or how you intended to vote in the next general election. These days — as in the UnHerd Britain poll, published today — you might equally be asked to pronounce on the deep metaphysics of womanhood. And indeed, on that most vexed of contemporary scholastic questions, namely whether “trans women are women”, it seems the jury is still out. According to the poll, 33% of us agree, 33% disagree, and 34% do neither.

Perhaps puzzlingly, this is despite the fact that, faced with practical questions about women’s spaces and women’s sports, there seems to be significant agreement that trans women should keep out of both. Had the latter results been the only ones revealed today, they surely would have suggested that, when push comes to shove, most people do not believe that trans women are women. For the alternative doesn’t add up: large sections of the British public believe there is a kind of anomalously shaped, baritone-voiced woman out there who also, for some reason, shouldn’t be allowed in a female changing room or on the sports field with other women.

A similar impression of confusion in the public mind emerges when the answers to two further poll questions are compared. A majority of respondents agreed that “people should be able to identify as being of a different gender to the one they had recorded at birth”. However, there was markedly less enthusiasm for making it easier to change “legal gender”. This too looks like a strange juxtaposition, at least at first.

In this case, though, the disparity is presumably explained by the fact that “to identify as being of a different gender” in the first question has been interpreted by respondents as nothing much more meaningful than donning fancy dress. To “identify” here mainly refers to men saying that they feel like women, and women saying that they feel like men (or at least, don’t feel like women) — perhaps with some non-conforming clothing thrown in for good measure. It would be an illiberal state indeed that tried to outlaw any of this, and at odds with our generally tolerant national character to try. Still, for poll respondents, rightly allowing people to express themselves freely doesn’t seem to have entailed that we should start handing out gender recognition certificates on the strength of it.

Yet the “trans women are women” answer remains an intriguing one. To my mind, the fact that 34% neither agree nor disagree is telling. And I don’t blame people for feeling befuddled. Pollsters inherit the limitations of dominant public ways of framing particular issues — and there is no more confusing framing than “trans women are women”. For a start, there’s the fact that the phrase functions like a mantra. As transactivists who frequently deploy the phrase no doubt realise, the repetition of the word “women” produces a slightly hypnotic effect. After all, it looks tautological — a bit like asking whether sausage dogs are dogs, or armchairs are chairs.

More fundamentally, there’s a widespread lack of clarity about who counts as a “trans woman” — a characteristic starkly exhibited in recent days by Scotland’s First Transactivist, Nicola Sturgeon. Is a trans woman someone who has had surgery to remove penis and testicles, and had a simulacrum of a vagina put there instead? Does being a trans woman require you to have taken artificial oestrogen for years, or to have had your natal testosterone suppressed? Do you have to own a gender recognition certificate?

Or does the category include men who don’t have any special legal status, and who only cross-dress, and perhaps don’t even bother doing that? Does it include convicted rapists who suddenly find a feeling of womanhood welling up within their bosoms on the way to a sentencing hearing? The more confusion there is about who counts as a trans woman, the less likely it is that people will be able to answer whether a trans woman is a woman or not with any certainty.

Whatever the source of the public’s confusion, it’s a testament to the dogged persistence of the LGBT+ lobbying sector that there is meaningful disagreement about the matter at all. For however you look at the polling, it still suggests that a significant proportion of the general population now think adult human males can change their sex by some kind of behavioural process — whether that’s a medical, legal, or merely sartorial one, or even just muttering “I’m a woman now” to your lawyer as the prospect of a male prison looms.

This bizarre epistemic situation did not arise on its own. Lamentable as the national standard of secondary school biology probably is, it still seems unlikely that many of us have mixed up human beings with sequential hermaphrodites. Clownfish, for instance, really can change their sex, going from the production of eggs to sperm over the course of a single lifetime. But — not to put too fine a point on it — humans aren’t fish.

And nor, I think, should we pay any attention to academics coughing and spluttering about the supposedly well-understood distinction between “sex” and “gender”.  According to some of them, when someone says that a trans woman is a woman, they are not talking about adult human females at all. Rather, the speaker has accurately grasped something much more intellectually sophisticated — that womanhood is a “gender”, which some adult human males can come to possess, and some adult human females can shed.

The makers of this point conveniently ignore the fact that “gender” is used in multiple ambiguous ways these days, including as a polite synonym for biological sex, and alternatively as a name for a set of social stereotypes for femininity and masculinity. If you ask these same academics if they mean that womanhood is a matter of liking pink glittery things and tottering about on high heels, they get quite cross. And if you ask them to further explain what they think womanhood is then, if not conforming to sexist stereotypes, they may try to get you fired from your job. Either way, the idea that the general public is motivated by a deep comprehension of gender studies arcana seems to me somewhat optimistic.

So really, the victory here — if it can be called that — belongs almost entirely to organisations such as Stonewall, Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence, All About Trans, the Scottish Equality Network, and associated pals in the rainbow-hued phalanx. You really do have to hand it to them. Quite astonishingly, they have turned what used to be a boringly factual matter about whether Xs were Ys into a quasi-religious question revealing the respondent’s personal values. And at least to some extent, it has clearly worked.

Collaborating together over a decade, these organisations have poured resources — donated to them by well-meaning foundations, generous lottery distributors, and successive Tory governments — into guilt-tripping much of the nation into half-believing something nonsensical. A quick search of charity databases over the last decade shows tens of millions of pounds specially dedicated to trans projects — including many for “trans kids”. Such projects tend to heartrendingly represent trans people as a uniquely martyred class, especially vulnerable to threat and so in need of various kinds of support, resources, and encouragement to compensate. First among concessions demanded on their behalf has been that personal fictions of sex-change be validated by the world. It’s been presented as the very least we could do.

For years then, under the guise of equality, lobbyists have been spinning this line in UK workplaces, youth groups, schools, universities, hospitals, media outlets, government departments, police forces, local councils, and so on — and yes, in prison services too. They have relentlessly insisted that the question “are trans women, women?” is a test of individual character rather than a basic request for information. According to their imposed logic, “strongly agree” correlates with “minimally compassionate”, and “strongly disagree” correlates with “genocidal”. It’s as if the public has been sold a subliminal version of the Peter Pan story: say you believe that fairies exist, and you can save Tinkerbell from dying.

Meanwhile, for most for this same period, the British media has failed in its basic duty to investigate LGBT+ propaganda properly, much of the time simply passing it along to readers unexpurgated, as if doing PR. Even now, if your main news source is The Guardian or the BBC you will be lucky to have come across such complicating facts as, say, that around 60% of trans women in UK prisons are sex offenders; or that the starkly rising rates of rape among “women” may not be what they seem; or that murder rates of trans people in the UK are gratifyingly extremely low, and for the last few years non-existent. The story of the martyred UK trans woman continues to flourish, as does the moral pressure to try to keep her alive by saying the right words. Small wonder, then, that people still seem confused.

Depressing as this might appear, perhaps we shouldn’t despair. Poll results from Scotland in particular suggest that, however vague people seem to be about theoretical questions, when confronted by the practical consequences of treating a trans woman as a woman, thoughts get suddenly and quickly clarified. With the debacle of the Scottish Prison Service’s putting male sex offenders in the female estate perhaps freshly in mind, nine out of  the ten constituencies most strongly opposed to allowing trans women in women’s spaces were Scottish. And this doesn’t feel like a coincidence.

Relatedly, perhaps we should also consider that what people sometimes say might not actually be that good an indication of what they really believe. Many philosophers think that the content of a person’s beliefs should not be identified only in terms of individual things he says. Rather, his beliefs should be gauged in relation to how his statements more generally fit together with his behaviour and other expressed thoughts (or do not). For instance, someone who says she believes that the sky is falling in, but who doesn’t duck or otherwise mention it in other relevant contexts, is perhaps not being entirely reliable.

Equally, someone who in one context seems tempted by the thought that trans women are women, but who in another is clear that they don’t belong in women’s spaces or sports, perhaps doesn’t really believe that trans women are really women in the first place, no matter what she says directly on the matter. In that case, what the polling from Scotland may be telling us — at least, reading between the lines — is that for many north of the border, trans women are in fact men. When confronted with the evidence of eyes and ears, the decade-long guilt-trip is apparently running out of steam.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago

It might be useful for people to be taught or at least encouraged to discuss or think about what compassion actually is. What qualities should compassion be balanced with? And what does compassion become if not balanced? For often, people are told that if they don’t go along with the lie that “trans women are women” that they lack compassion. And that if we don’t have compassion, we should feel shame.

The reality is that compassion (the wish that I, you and others be free from suffering) must be balanced with equanimity (the understanding that I, you and others will without exception suffer in this life.) Without equanimity, compassion falls into either anger or grief. And we can see plenty of this from trans-extremists. Likewise, without compassion, equanimity falls into indifference. 

Only by contemplating what compassion is and how it looks in practice might folk realise that it isn’t compassionate to indulge delusions. That by affirming a persons delusions (lying to them) you take them further away from what would help them, and what would be compassionate – learning tools and techniques that allow them to cope with a world not in accordance with their perceptions. To understand that their condition, be it gender dysphoria, body dysmorphia, AGF or whatever it is, places them on the margins of society. And that society will accommodate them to a degree, but that compassion has also to be directed to the vast majority who do not suffer from these conditions. 

Compassion for all would mean the majority of us can continue with our lives as they are: segregated by sex when it matters, and those with these conditions can be offered help in the form of mental tools and techniques if they want them and are willing to practice them.

Compassion and equanimity need to be supported by wisdom. 

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Josh Bailey
JB
Josh Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

My first comment on Unherd: this was excellently expressed. I am a vicar so will need to speak to my congregations on this point. Please may I quote you, probably as ‘one commenter on a news website’ – or by name, if you prefer?: “Without equanimity, compassion falls into either anger or grief. And we can see plenty of this from trans-extremists.”- along with a paraphrase of your definition, which is totally consonant with the Bible. The train of thought is very evocative of Jonathan Haidt in ‘the Coddling of the American Mind’, but I think you said it more succinctly and incisively.

Toby B
Toby B
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Bailey

Looks like this is a reference to the Buddhist “Four Immeasurables”: loving-kindness, compassion, equanimity, joy.

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Toby B

It’s the Brahma Viharas from traditional Theravadan Buddhism. The joy is “sympathetic joy” taking joy in the benficial actions speech and thought of ourselves and others.

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Toby B

It’s the Brahma Viharas from traditional Theravadan Buddhism. The joy is “sympathetic joy” taking joy in the benficial actions speech and thought of ourselves and others.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Bailey

Hi Vicar – be sure to get into the Giles Comments – he is the Unherd Vicar writer here who pretty much has God being gender non-spefic and probably wears a rainbow Vestments and gender reveal christenings…

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

I’m not really sure how you can object to an all powerful immanent being, the Creator of the world, who is not a man or a woman, as not having a gender…..Please explain….

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Depends if you believe the bible is the word of God or not. If it is the word of God who are we to change the expression of who He is?

Phil Rees
PR
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Dodgy argument unless you have the scholarship to go back to the Greek and before that the Aramaic to discover whether the writers of the King James Bible took liberties.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

This begs the question, Phil…if arguing from the framing of a Christian, are you suggesting that Jesus in terrestrial form was really a nonbinary non-man/non-woman…something? If so, what was…It? Do you have evidence of such a radical redefinition? Seems that if we had it all wrong about humanity being created in God’s image, and that Jesus was really not the Word made flesh as a man, he would have pulled a Red Pill moment with his Apostles rather than uttering, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven…” in a display and perpetuation of utter error about the nature of the Creator and us. He could have just as easily said, “Our Creator That Art in Heaven”(in Aramaic) to keep it nonbinary and then given a Red Pill sermon with the beatitudes that we had it all wrong.

Then again, the woke who are now arguing that god is nonbinary are doing what others have done for eons – reimagining god in their most sacred image of the day…and nothing is closer to being divine these days in the media, Hollywood, academia and so forth than a nirvana woke state of nonbinary-ness ….

With such a redefinition, Christians would have to toss a large portion of their liturgy and scriptures (whether in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English or any other language) and understanding of Jesus upon the purging bonfire of heresy. Say goodbye to the New Testament such as it is. That said, I’d like to see the ancient evidence that Jesus was really nonbinary.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

It amazes and disgusts me that people actually claim a depiction of a stab wound is the same as a vagina. A stab wound is NOT a vagina. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus claim to be a woman.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Try not to worry about it. These ideas have a measure of desperation about them that is distressing if we focus on them and let them affect our own thinking.

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Try not to worry about it. These ideas have a measure of desperation about them that is distressing if we focus on them and let them affect our own thinking.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Gender specificity is the least significant aspect of Jesus, his humanity is more important, given the context and times of Jesus’s birth, survival to adulthood as a man was possibly more likely than as a woman.
Also more likely to be listened to as a man in the society he lived in, but only just, given the radical nature of the message he taught.
By and large gender is not something one lives in self conscious awareness of. How one lives seems more important than than in what gender one does it. Adjustment and adaptation, possibly with maturity to fit into the world as it is, as living at all is complex , difficult to do well, and always changing.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

We were actually talking about whether “God” was male or female! Jesus was one aspect of God, the Son, so we can reasonably refer to him as a man (though also divine)

Robin Lillian
RL
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

It amazes and disgusts me that people actually claim a depiction of a stab wound is the same as a vagina. A stab wound is NOT a vagina. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus claim to be a woman.

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Gender specificity is the least significant aspect of Jesus, his humanity is more important, given the context and times of Jesus’s birth, survival to adulthood as a man was possibly more likely than as a woman.
Also more likely to be listened to as a man in the society he lived in, but only just, given the radical nature of the message he taught.
By and large gender is not something one lives in self conscious awareness of. How one lives seems more important than than in what gender one does it. Adjustment and adaptation, possibly with maturity to fit into the world as it is, as living at all is complex , difficult to do well, and always changing.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

We were actually talking about whether “God” was male or female! Jesus was one aspect of God, the Son, so we can reasonably refer to him as a man (though also divine)

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Which is what most theological scholars actually do.

William Cameron
WC
William Cameron
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Jesus was the son of God – and said “father forgive the …”thats very clear

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 year ago

Only because when the bible was written, women could not write… Would all have been different if women had been allowed to write and opine.
Surely if trans women are women, they would not need the label “trans”, they would simply be women. But as a transsexual friend has stated too may times to count, “I am a biological man who presents as a woman. I am not a real woman,” Since s/he went through surgery more than 50 years ago, I think she knows what she is speaking about. She looks like a slightly batty older woman, except in certain lights, you think “man” as I did the first time I met her when I was 8 years old.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 year ago

Only because when the bible was written, women could not write… Would all have been different if women had been allowed to write and opine.
Surely if trans women are women, they would not need the label “trans”, they would simply be women. But as a transsexual friend has stated too may times to count, “I am a biological man who presents as a woman. I am not a real woman,” Since s/he went through surgery more than 50 years ago, I think she knows what she is speaking about. She looks like a slightly batty older woman, except in certain lights, you think “man” as I did the first time I met her when I was 8 years old.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

This begs the question, Phil…if arguing from the framing of a Christian, are you suggesting that Jesus in terrestrial form was really a nonbinary non-man/non-woman…something? If so, what was…It? Do you have evidence of such a radical redefinition? Seems that if we had it all wrong about humanity being created in God’s image, and that Jesus was really not the Word made flesh as a man, he would have pulled a Red Pill moment with his Apostles rather than uttering, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven…” in a display and perpetuation of utter error about the nature of the Creator and us. He could have just as easily said, “Our Creator That Art in Heaven”(in Aramaic) to keep it nonbinary and then given a Red Pill sermon with the beatitudes that we had it all wrong.

Then again, the woke who are now arguing that god is nonbinary are doing what others have done for eons – reimagining god in their most sacred image of the day…and nothing is closer to being divine these days in the media, Hollywood, academia and so forth than a nirvana woke state of nonbinary-ness ….

With such a redefinition, Christians would have to toss a large portion of their liturgy and scriptures (whether in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English or any other language) and understanding of Jesus upon the purging bonfire of heresy. Say goodbye to the New Testament such as it is. That said, I’d like to see the ancient evidence that Jesus was really nonbinary.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Which is what most theological scholars actually do.

William Cameron
WC
William Cameron
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Jesus was the son of God – and said “father forgive the …”thats very clear

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Modern scholarship has shown, including by Christians and Jewish scholars, that the Bible was without any serious doubt, written and compiled by human beings over many hundreds of years with various different styles and linguistic usages. Of course these writers considered they were inspired by God, but it is a bit of a surprise that God is no unclear and inconsistent on many issues. If you want to instruct people how to live so that they don’t go to Hell, it might be better to write in simple and clear and precise prose rather than a series of parables!

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

As you say, there were many different writers. It therefore seems amazing that there is such consistence if it were not true and also that they would put in as facts things that would be very unlikely to be believed such as women being the first people to see the risen Lord.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

As you say, there were many different writers. It therefore seems amazing that there is such consistence if it were not true and also that they would put in as facts things that would be very unlikely to be believed such as women being the first people to see the risen Lord.

Phil Rees
PR
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Dodgy argument unless you have the scholarship to go back to the Greek and before that the Aramaic to discover whether the writers of the King James Bible took liberties.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Modern scholarship has shown, including by Christians and Jewish scholars, that the Bible was without any serious doubt, written and compiled by human beings over many hundreds of years with various different styles and linguistic usages. Of course these writers considered they were inspired by God, but it is a bit of a surprise that God is no unclear and inconsistent on many issues. If you want to instruct people how to live so that they don’t go to Hell, it might be better to write in simple and clear and precise prose rather than a series of parables!

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I object to people like you telling me what I am permitted to believe. I have the right to believe or NOT believe in any god, goddess, spirit or any other form of spirituality I want–as long as it doesn’t involve some monstrous act like human sacrifice. Stop trying to delete people’s freedom of religion and start minding your own business.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Er, I am not even sure what you are responding to, as I didn’t say any of those things. You can believe whatever you like. I hope however you offer the same tolerance to others!
The only thing I said was that it is a bit daft insisting that an all powerful immanent being must be either male or female; However if you wish to believe either it is up to you.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Er, I am not even sure what you are responding to, as I didn’t say any of those things. You can believe whatever you like. I hope however you offer the same tolerance to others!
The only thing I said was that it is a bit daft insisting that an all powerful immanent being must be either male or female; However if you wish to believe either it is up to you.

harry storm
HS
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Not having a gender –because you’re a supreme immanent being — has absolutely nothing to do with being “non-binary”, which (correctly) assumes a binary state that one is (incorrectly) not a part of.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Depends if you believe the bible is the word of God or not. If it is the word of God who are we to change the expression of who He is?

Robin Lillian
RL
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I object to people like you telling me what I am permitted to believe. I have the right to believe or NOT believe in any god, goddess, spirit or any other form of spirituality I want–as long as it doesn’t involve some monstrous act like human sacrifice. Stop trying to delete people’s freedom of religion and start minding your own business.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Not having a gender –because you’re a supreme immanent being — has absolutely nothing to do with being “non-binary”, which (correctly) assumes a binary state that one is (incorrectly) not a part of.

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Not that I have noticed

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

I’m not really sure how you can object to an all powerful immanent being, the Creator of the world, who is not a man or a woman, as not having a gender…..Please explain….

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Not that I have noticed

Theo Hopkins
Theo Hopkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Bailey

Morning, there, Vicar….
Back in the day when I was nine years old (1952) in my school in Ireland I got into trouble when I said “God does not exist”.
Today I get into trouble when I say that trans women don’t exist.
Not all that much progress.
…. and don’t get me started on transubstantiation. 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Theo Hopkins
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Theo Hopkins

There is a big difference between God and trans women.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Trans woman: Somebody who makes a woman from a man:
God: Somebody who made women from men.

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

And something from nothing

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

And something from nothing

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Not really… Both take faith! God is a fantasy figure created to explain things that could not be explained to the populace at the time and to keep that populace under the control of the few.
Trans women are biological men who present as women and in the majority of cases, it takes a faith in the compassion and kindness of others to believe that they look like and behave like biological women. Very few pass “the hair on the back of the neck” test in a place where no men should be. A bit like when certain people tell you they are behaving in a certain way because God has told them to and your gut tells you to run far and fast.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Trans woman: Somebody who makes a woman from a man:
God: Somebody who made women from men.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Not really… Both take faith! God is a fantasy figure created to explain things that could not be explained to the populace at the time and to keep that populace under the control of the few.
Trans women are biological men who present as women and in the majority of cases, it takes a faith in the compassion and kindness of others to believe that they look like and behave like biological women. Very few pass “the hair on the back of the neck” test in a place where no men should be. A bit like when certain people tell you they are behaving in a certain way because God has told them to and your gut tells you to run far and fast.

Mr Bellisarius
MB
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Theo Hopkins

One thing has changed: Back in the day a man dressed as a woman was a Transvestite man.

Kirsten Walstedt
KW
Kirsten Walstedt
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Or a priest…

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Not any more. They’d put you in the stocks for saying that now (or the modern equivalent, a baying mob descends on you on social media to call you a transphobe)

Nancy G
NG
Nancy G
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

And still is.

Kirsten Walstedt
KW
Kirsten Walstedt
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Or a priest…

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

Not any more. They’d put you in the stocks for saying that now (or the modern equivalent, a baying mob descends on you on social media to call you a transphobe)

Nancy G
Nancy G
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Bellisarius

And still is.

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Theo Hopkins

To which the response has to be Good doesn’t worry about it, transubstantiation, why should we?

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Theo Hopkins

There is a big difference between God and trans women.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago
Reply to  Theo Hopkins

One thing has changed: Back in the day a man dressed as a woman was a Transvestite man.

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Theo Hopkins

To which the response has to be Good doesn’t worry about it, transubstantiation, why should we?

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Bailey

Certainly Josh, but you would be teaching the Brahma Viharas from traditional Theravadan Buddhism. I think (and please correct me if I’m wrong) but the main difference between Theravadan and Christian compassion is, in Christianity compassion is directed towards others, not ourselves. In Buddhism, ourselves are included. Is this correct?
If you’d like to read more on the topic of compassion (a comparison with Christianity would be fascinating) see “With compassionate understanding” by Steve and Rosemary Weissman. Their work is very much based on the Pali canon and tailored for lay people.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

I’ve never thought of Christian compassion in those terms, but it makes me wonder, if Christian compassion is directed towards others, that might explain why you find Catholic hospitals and charities in every corner of the globe. Indeed in any American city the Catholic charities are a visibly active presence.

Admittedly I know very little about Buddhism. The practitioners I’ve met talk about meditation as if it were a morally good and/or personally therapeutic pursuit.

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

With Theravada, material help to others (charity) is seen as a lesser good than giving people the opportunity to learn the Buddha Dhamma. So in Theravadan countries people are more inclined to support monasteries and meditation centres than health or poverty charities. The Dhamma is seen as the greatest gift.

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

With Theravada, material help to others (charity) is seen as a lesser good than giving people the opportunity to learn the Buddha Dhamma. So in Theravadan countries people are more inclined to support monasteries and meditation centres than health or poverty charities. The Dhamma is seen as the greatest gift.

Alan Tonkyn
AT
Alan Tonkyn
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Actually, Christianity has a balanced approach. Christ’s second commandment is ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12.31). Christ rightly understood that human beings will naturally desire their own wellbeing, and that the harder part is true empathy: having a real interest in the well-being of others. A trivial indicator: how many conversations have you had recently where your interlocutor only wanted to talk about him/herself and showed little real interest in you?

Josh Bailey
JB
Josh Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Thanks N Forster 🙂 I think the Isaiah 53 prophecy (for example) of the Messiah got there first with the notion that suffering is the only possible path to redemption. Also Proverbs 3:10-12 about the Lord disciplining His children. Equanimity is expressed in Orthodox mysticism as ‘a joyful sadness’ – reflecting Jesus’ acceptance of the inevitability of the cross. I’m a Jesus guy through & through: all wisdom is only judged insofar as it takes its cues from Him & the Scriptures that are all about Him. If you’d like a comparative study between Buddhism and Christianity, there’s a podcast interview with a recent convert from Buddhism to Christianity which I found fascinating. I can (I think? Still working out the Unherd rules…) DM you the link if you’d be interested. Thanks for the Weissman recommendation. There are several Buddhists in my parish with whom I have interesting conversations.

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Difficult to love your neighbour as yourself without compassion for both, neighbour and self.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

I’ve never thought of Christian compassion in those terms, but it makes me wonder, if Christian compassion is directed towards others, that might explain why you find Catholic hospitals and charities in every corner of the globe. Indeed in any American city the Catholic charities are a visibly active presence.

Admittedly I know very little about Buddhism. The practitioners I’ve met talk about meditation as if it were a morally good and/or personally therapeutic pursuit.

Alan Tonkyn
AT
Alan Tonkyn
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Actually, Christianity has a balanced approach. Christ’s second commandment is ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12.31). Christ rightly understood that human beings will naturally desire their own wellbeing, and that the harder part is true empathy: having a real interest in the well-being of others. A trivial indicator: how many conversations have you had recently where your interlocutor only wanted to talk about him/herself and showed little real interest in you?

Josh Bailey
Josh Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Thanks N Forster 🙂 I think the Isaiah 53 prophecy (for example) of the Messiah got there first with the notion that suffering is the only possible path to redemption. Also Proverbs 3:10-12 about the Lord disciplining His children. Equanimity is expressed in Orthodox mysticism as ‘a joyful sadness’ – reflecting Jesus’ acceptance of the inevitability of the cross. I’m a Jesus guy through & through: all wisdom is only judged insofar as it takes its cues from Him & the Scriptures that are all about Him. If you’d like a comparative study between Buddhism and Christianity, there’s a podcast interview with a recent convert from Buddhism to Christianity which I found fascinating. I can (I think? Still working out the Unherd rules…) DM you the link if you’d be interested. Thanks for the Weissman recommendation. There are several Buddhists in my parish with whom I have interesting conversations.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Difficult to love your neighbour as yourself without compassion for both, neighbour and self.

Toby B
TB
Toby B
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Bailey

Looks like this is a reference to the Buddhist “Four Immeasurables”: loving-kindness, compassion, equanimity, joy.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Bailey

Hi Vicar – be sure to get into the Giles Comments – he is the Unherd Vicar writer here who pretty much has God being gender non-spefic and probably wears a rainbow Vestments and gender reveal christenings…

Theo Hopkins
TH
Theo Hopkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Bailey

Morning, there, Vicar….
Back in the day when I was nine years old (1952) in my school in Ireland I got into trouble when I said “God does not exist”.
Today I get into trouble when I say that trans women don’t exist.
Not all that much progress.
…. and don’t get me started on transubstantiation. 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Theo Hopkins
N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Bailey

Certainly Josh, but you would be teaching the Brahma Viharas from traditional Theravadan Buddhism. I think (and please correct me if I’m wrong) but the main difference between Theravadan and Christian compassion is, in Christianity compassion is directed towards others, not ourselves. In Buddhism, ourselves are included. Is this correct?
If you’d like to read more on the topic of compassion (a comparison with Christianity would be fascinating) see “With compassionate understanding” by Steve and Rosemary Weissman. Their work is very much based on the Pali canon and tailored for lay people.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Geoff Cooper
GC
Geoff Cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Indeed. An example of false compassion might be assuring morbidly obese people that their over-eating is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice, that they should be ‘body positive’ and that to criticize their choices and diet as unhealthy is ‘fat phobic’ and discriminatory. One of these body positive obese models died of a massive heart attack just the other day, she was only in her 30’s. Is it really compassionate to go along with and re-enforce such people’s delusions or is it in truth just virtue signaling cowardice?
When a girl with extreme anorexia looks at herself in the mirror, she sees a fat person, everyone else sees a living skeleton. Should we go along with the idea that she is indeed fat? Should we validate ‘her truth’?
When a middle aged, paunchy, knobbley-kneed, lantern jawed ‘trans woman’ looks at herself in the mirror, presumably she sees a beautiful woman, yet everyone else sees a ridiculous pantomime dame. I really do not mind going along for the sake of common decency, with the idea that such transvestites are ‘women’, but to actually expect me to believe it to the extent that I’d be quite happy for such a person to share a changing room or showers with my fifteen year old daughter? Oh please!

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

Yes. An old friend who worked in Social services when we still had large mental institutions did tell me though that with their clients they only contradicted a persons delusions if there was imminent danger to themselves or others. Otherwise telling them they weren’t who they thought they were could cause utter chaos. But then, he was dealing with genuinely crazy people already removed from society.
We all seem to be living in one now…

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
TERRY JESSOP
TJ
TERRY JESSOP
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

Are there really anorexics still around? I heard that the sort of people who used to become anorexics are these days deciding to change their gender instead. Anorexia is so 20th Century.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  TERRY JESSOP

Unfortunately, there are still people dying of anorexia, although they might also think they’re trans. Eating disorders are mostly caused by starvation, whether voluntary (dieting) or involuntary. Binging is a more common symptom, but anorexia also happens. See the Minnesota Starvation Experiment from the 1940s. (First/last time this study was done because of moral concerns)

Last edited 1 year ago by Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
RL
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  TERRY JESSOP

Unfortunately, there are still people dying of anorexia, although they might also think they’re trans. Eating disorders are mostly caused by starvation, whether voluntary (dieting) or involuntary. Binging is a more common symptom, but anorexia also happens. See the Minnesota Starvation Experiment from the 1940s. (First/last time this study was done because of moral concerns)

Last edited 1 year ago by Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

I don’t want your “compassion”. I just want you to leave fat people the F alone and mind your own business. Thin people also die young of heart attacks, and sometimes fat people live well into their 90s. Leon Askin (General Burkhalter in Hogan’s heroes) lived to age 97, and he was fat all his life.
Why is it people like you feel the need for an excuse to turn everything into an attack on fat people? Or do you also feel the need to constantly attack people with pimples for not washing their faces enough or scream at people in car crashes for not paying enough attention while driving?
You have no clue what every fat person eats or doesn’t eat. All sorts of diseases cause weight gain. Processed foods have all sorts of ingredients that cause weight gain–and a lot of those foods are called “healthy”, like seed oils and sugary smoothies. Not everyone gains weight but not everyone infected with Covid dies, either. Nature loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger. Illness is NOT a “lifestye choice”,and that includes eating disorders.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robin Lillian
Geoff Cooper
GC
Geoff Cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

You can’t have even read my post properly, let alone understood it. I’m not offering you my ‘compassion’ – I’m criticizing the false compassion that gives very sick and deluded people validation that often ends up leading to their early deaths. Of course thin people die too, did you not read what I wrote about anorexics?
I know ‘illness is not a lifestyle choice’ but telling people that their eating disorder is harmless is not helping morbidly obese people to make the necessary changes they need to make if they are going to avoid an early grave, so excusing and validating their over-eating is a profoundly cruel, cowardly and uncompassionate lie to tell them.

Zeph Smith
ZS
Zeph Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Reading your response to Geoff’s comment is very illuminating.
I recall when seat belts were required, opponents would cite anecdotes of people saved from a cliff dive or burning car by being flung out of the car, ignoring the overall statistics.
As tobacco smoking was discouraged, opponents would cite somebody who smoked and lived to 98 without getting lung cancer, ignoring the overall statistics.
As drunk driving laws were expanded, opponents would cite somebody who often drove while intoxicated yet never had an accident, ignoring the overall statistics.
We could go on. Obvious cherry picking of anomalous anecdotes as if they mattered more than overall statistics, is a desperation measure for avoiding reality.
I don’t tell fat people what to do, and I don’t shame them or treat their weight as a “moral issue”, and I’m friends with many. When a fat friend collapsed one of my chairs (luckily not causing injury), I was solicitous and then quietly replaced it and some others with sturdier chairs (I did let them know in the end, because I didn’t want them to be fearful of it happening again). I don’t even bring weight up; I assume they have all the motivation they need and do not need me to remind them.
But I will not support the delusion that being substantially fat is not statistically quite unhealthy and likely to lead to serious health outcomes and an earlier death.
Yes, one can be more fit or less fit at any size – but many who chant that mantra are in fact in poor physical shape. I’m an overweight (as well as elderly) hiker and I pass many people on the trail. No fat person has ever, ever kept up with me, and as much as I care about them, not a single one in my acquaintance can walk very far. Every single one of any age has real foot or leg problems; compensations that work at age 30 fail at 60. (Want to cite another rare exception as if that anomoly changes anything overall?)
But even if (relatively) cardiovascularly fit, having that much adipose tissue has some serious systemic effects in itself.
My fat friends do not require that I detach myself from reality in order to be a friend, only that I treat them with the same respect that I treat others, and I feel the same in the other direction – mutual compassion and respect, but not support for delusions.
As I say, I have no problems being friends with fat people, and I can make certain accommodations to support them, but I would have trouble connecting very deeply with some of the “body positivity” advocates – not because of their weight, but because of their mental states. If their personal coping behavior requires them to control my mind, that’s going too far for a healthy relationship. I won’t dehumanize them or advocate for harm to them, and I have compassion for them, but I still get a choice of who it’s healthy to voluntarily spend time with.

Last edited 1 year ago by Zeph Smith
Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

You can’t have even read my post properly, let alone understood it. I’m not offering you my ‘compassion’ – I’m criticizing the false compassion that gives very sick and deluded people validation that often ends up leading to their early deaths. Of course thin people die too, did you not read what I wrote about anorexics?
I know ‘illness is not a lifestyle choice’ but telling people that their eating disorder is harmless is not helping morbidly obese people to make the necessary changes they need to make if they are going to avoid an early grave, so excusing and validating their over-eating is a profoundly cruel, cowardly and uncompassionate lie to tell them.

Zeph Smith
Zeph Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Reading your response to Geoff’s comment is very illuminating.
I recall when seat belts were required, opponents would cite anecdotes of people saved from a cliff dive or burning car by being flung out of the car, ignoring the overall statistics.
As tobacco smoking was discouraged, opponents would cite somebody who smoked and lived to 98 without getting lung cancer, ignoring the overall statistics.
As drunk driving laws were expanded, opponents would cite somebody who often drove while intoxicated yet never had an accident, ignoring the overall statistics.
We could go on. Obvious cherry picking of anomalous anecdotes as if they mattered more than overall statistics, is a desperation measure for avoiding reality.
I don’t tell fat people what to do, and I don’t shame them or treat their weight as a “moral issue”, and I’m friends with many. When a fat friend collapsed one of my chairs (luckily not causing injury), I was solicitous and then quietly replaced it and some others with sturdier chairs (I did let them know in the end, because I didn’t want them to be fearful of it happening again). I don’t even bring weight up; I assume they have all the motivation they need and do not need me to remind them.
But I will not support the delusion that being substantially fat is not statistically quite unhealthy and likely to lead to serious health outcomes and an earlier death.
Yes, one can be more fit or less fit at any size – but many who chant that mantra are in fact in poor physical shape. I’m an overweight (as well as elderly) hiker and I pass many people on the trail. No fat person has ever, ever kept up with me, and as much as I care about them, not a single one in my acquaintance can walk very far. Every single one of any age has real foot or leg problems; compensations that work at age 30 fail at 60. (Want to cite another rare exception as if that anomoly changes anything overall?)
But even if (relatively) cardiovascularly fit, having that much adipose tissue has some serious systemic effects in itself.
My fat friends do not require that I detach myself from reality in order to be a friend, only that I treat them with the same respect that I treat others, and I feel the same in the other direction – mutual compassion and respect, but not support for delusions.
As I say, I have no problems being friends with fat people, and I can make certain accommodations to support them, but I would have trouble connecting very deeply with some of the “body positivity” advocates – not because of their weight, but because of their mental states. If their personal coping behavior requires them to control my mind, that’s going too far for a healthy relationship. I won’t dehumanize them or advocate for harm to them, and I have compassion for them, but I still get a choice of who it’s healthy to voluntarily spend time with.

Last edited 1 year ago by Zeph Smith
N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

Yes. An old friend who worked in Social services when we still had large mental institutions did tell me though that with their clients they only contradicted a persons delusions if there was imminent danger to themselves or others. Otherwise telling them they weren’t who they thought they were could cause utter chaos. But then, he was dealing with genuinely crazy people already removed from society.
We all seem to be living in one now…

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
TERRY JESSOP
TJ
TERRY JESSOP
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

Are there really anorexics still around? I heard that the sort of people who used to become anorexics are these days deciding to change their gender instead. Anorexia is so 20th Century.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

I don’t want your “compassion”. I just want you to leave fat people the F alone and mind your own business. Thin people also die young of heart attacks, and sometimes fat people live well into their 90s. Leon Askin (General Burkhalter in Hogan’s heroes) lived to age 97, and he was fat all his life.
Why is it people like you feel the need for an excuse to turn everything into an attack on fat people? Or do you also feel the need to constantly attack people with pimples for not washing their faces enough or scream at people in car crashes for not paying enough attention while driving?
You have no clue what every fat person eats or doesn’t eat. All sorts of diseases cause weight gain. Processed foods have all sorts of ingredients that cause weight gain–and a lot of those foods are called “healthy”, like seed oils and sugary smoothies. Not everyone gains weight but not everyone infected with Covid dies, either. Nature loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger. Illness is NOT a “lifestye choice”,and that includes eating disorders.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robin Lillian
Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Of course now, many with trans identities are not suffering from any particular identifiable condition for which compassion would be athe appropriate response. That is the whole point of Gender Self Id – it removes, and negates, the need for a diagnosis of dysphoria.
And even then, compassion does not mean going along with someone’s deluded inner feeling that they are something which they are not. It is one thing to have fellow feeling, another to have to validate that feeling.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jane Anderson
Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

I read your post carefully but while I agree with your general argument, I don’t agree with your definition of compassion, “feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others”, nor of equanimity, “calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation”.
Where we agree is that compassion is about empathy. But why should my compassion for another entitle that other to impose their “identity” on me, with all its consequences, irrespective of my feelings? To accept this would be to subordinate my feelings to that other person. In other words “trans” people are demanding more compassion from others than they themselves are prepared to extend to those others. This has real world consequences. And because that is so and because we live in proximity to others within a society, the identity someone feels must not be allowed to impose on the identities of the majority where it is to their detriment. Instead, the majority in a compassionate society needs to find ways of helping “trans” people, IMO a mainly pychological delusion where it is not merely a calculating way to enter a sex segregated space, to cope with their delusion.
And that brings me to your well expressed sentence: “by affirming a persons delusions (lying to them) you take them further away from what would help them, and what would be compassionate – learning tools and techniques that allow them to cope with a world not in accordance with their perceptions.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Howard Gleave
N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Not carefully enough. Please read my post again. You have substituted my definition of compassion and equanimity with ones of your own. And taken exception to your own substitutes. We don’t agree on empathy either. I didn’t mention it.
I’m afraid you’re arguing with something I have not said and do not think.

Please read my post again, and try not to confuse what I have written with what you already think. You may well find we are in agreement.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Carl Valentine
CV
Carl Valentine
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

‘Mental institutions’ and ‘crazy’? don’t think you understand empathy at all…

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

I understand it enough not to confuse empathy and compassion. Empathy is “feeling with”, compassion as I was taught is “the wish that I, you and others be free from suffering.”
I do not have to feel a persons’ pain to know they are suffering, that everyone suffers.

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

I understand it enough not to confuse empathy and compassion. Empathy is “feeling with”, compassion as I was taught is “the wish that I, you and others be free from suffering.”
I do not have to feel a persons’ pain to know they are suffering, that everyone suffers.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

‘Mental institutions’ and ‘crazy’? don’t think you understand empathy at all…

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Not carefully enough. Please read my post again. You have substituted my definition of compassion and equanimity with ones of your own. And taken exception to your own substitutes. We don’t agree on empathy either. I didn’t mention it.
I’m afraid you’re arguing with something I have not said and do not think.

Please read my post again, and try not to confuse what I have written with what you already think. You may well find we are in agreement.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

One lifelong friend of mine is currently rather upset with me regarding my views on trans and non-binary identity, and told me quite crossly to “be kind” the other day. I responded by saying that it isn’t kind to encourage already vulnerable individuals to think that they can control how others speak and think about gender and sex or how our society references sex and gender, let alone mutilate their bodies when the issue they have is not with their bodies, but with their minds.

All this ideology does is contribute to their misery, it doesn’t empower them to be themselves or accept themselves as they are, it doesn’t foster understanding and inclusion, it ensures that most with healthy boundaries minimise their contact with them rather than deal with someone trying to control how they think and the language they use, and sets people on a path of unnecessary lifelong medical interventions that all come with severe side effects and complications.

Last edited 1 year ago by AL Crowe
N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Yep, progressive politics is the opposite of cognitive behavioural therapy. It conditions the mind to see evil where it does not exist, it encourages people to control the actions, speech and thoughts of others, it compounds conceit. It deranges people.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Very insightful, never heard progressive politics so precisely defined.
Do you think it is because they lack the ability to control themselves they desire the ability to control others?

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Possibly, but often it is about as seeing the cause of all of lifes’ problems as being external. It’s the opposite of the Four Noble Truths.
All forms of Critical theory (race/queer etc) are based on this wrong view. They are fundamentally flawed.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Communism was a flawed view but millions lost their lives over it.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Communism was a flawed view but millions lost their lives over it.

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Possibly, but often it is about as seeing the cause of all of lifes’ problems as being external. It’s the opposite of the Four Noble Truths.
All forms of Critical theory (race/queer etc) are based on this wrong view. They are fundamentally flawed.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Very true. In the list of hate crimes at police stations some reported someone who bibbed their hooter at his car as a racist hate crime. It appears with this loony government that things are seen as hate when no offence was meant. The same thing is happening in people losing their jobs because of misgendering a person. It is seen as hate rather than an effort not to endorse a delusion. For some the truth hurts even if spoken in love. The only casualty in the end would be truth which would lead to confusion.

Zeph Smith
Zeph Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

it appears with this loony government that things are seen as hate when no offence was meant

Oh, you must love microaggressions. According to the neo-progressive weaponization of that concept, it doesn’t really matter whether or not any offense was intended, because to quote a mantra from my DEI training, “impact trumps intention”. The psychological violence is the same, independent of any intention. So the speaker or doer is fully responsible for however the recipient chooses to interpret words or actions, period.
In that topsy turvey world, it doesn’t even matter whether the speaker actually objectively said something the recipient thinks they heard; if it was a mistaken hearing, the speaker is still solely responsible because they used words which could possibly be misheard in that manner.
It’s a power seeking ideology disguising itself as just expecting everybody to treat others with kindness – according to certain people’s unquestionable and manipulative redefinitions of “kindness”.

Zeph Smith
ZS
Zeph Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

it appears with this loony government that things are seen as hate when no offence was meant

Oh, you must love microaggressions. According to the neo-progressive weaponization of that concept, it doesn’t really matter whether or not any offense was intended, because to quote a mantra from my DEI training, “impact trumps intention”. The psychological violence is the same, independent of any intention. So the speaker or doer is fully responsible for however the recipient chooses to interpret words or actions, period.
In that topsy turvey world, it doesn’t even matter whether the speaker actually objectively said something the recipient thinks they heard; if it was a mistaken hearing, the speaker is still solely responsible because they used words which could possibly be misheard in that manner.
It’s a power seeking ideology disguising itself as just expecting everybody to treat others with kindness – according to certain people’s unquestionable and manipulative redefinitions of “kindness”.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Very insightful, never heard progressive politics so precisely defined.
Do you think it is because they lack the ability to control themselves they desire the ability to control others?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Very true. In the list of hate crimes at police stations some reported someone who bibbed their hooter at his car as a racist hate crime. It appears with this loony government that things are seen as hate when no offence was meant. The same thing is happening in people losing their jobs because of misgendering a person. It is seen as hate rather than an effort not to endorse a delusion. For some the truth hurts even if spoken in love. The only casualty in the end would be truth which would lead to confusion.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

People are losing their jobs today for using the wrong pronoun ie refusing to be forced to call a man a miss or Jane or whatever. These do not appear to be people who need our compassion. More like agree or else.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

The behaviour that a good proportion of these individuals display is definitely dysfunctional and the effects of it on others certainly can be severe when institutional power is used to enables it, yet ultimately, happy people do not have a compulsion to control others in this way or seek retribution for every perceived slight.

That is where compassion comes in, because these individuals generally feel desperately out of control and unhappy, and that isn’t a state that I would wish anyone to live in. Yet ultimately, I as an individual have no control over the way that others perceive themselves and the world, the little control I do have is in how I respond to the world, so the most compassionate thing I can do is hope that these unhappy individuals receive the appropriate therapeutic interventions so they may learn to direct that controlling behaviour inwards in a more constructive way that will improve their situations.

Whilst I cannot condone the damage that these unhappy individuals are doing to others with their litigious and controlling mindset, and outright condemn the institutions that are enabling their dysfunction, the vast majority of destruction they enact is to their own lives, their own bodies and their own relationships.

Last edited 1 year ago by AL Crowe
Zeph Smith
ZS
Zeph Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Thanks for that perspective. You are correct; the unbalanced and deluded and disturbed have always been with us and always will be. They deserve compassion, but not control of society. The difference now is that institutions have been commandeered by them in the quest to impose their will on others, and therein lies the real fault.
It’s easy to get upset at entitled people claiming they own the moral high ground, but they are often sad and miserable people coping the best they can; it’s the institutions which have failed us.

Zeph Smith
Zeph Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Thanks for that perspective. You are correct; the unbalanced and deluded and disturbed have always been with us and always will be. They deserve compassion, but not control of society. The difference now is that institutions have been commandeered by them in the quest to impose their will on others, and therein lies the real fault.
It’s easy to get upset at entitled people claiming they own the moral high ground, but they are often sad and miserable people coping the best they can; it’s the institutions which have failed us.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I have two transsexual friends who were hounded off social media and out of their jobs as equality trainers because they refuse to chenge how they describe themselves – as transsexual women who are biological men presenting as women. As people who are much older than most of those screaming “trans women are women/trans men are men” – 153 years between the two – they continue to speak their minds when meeting people often with the threat of violence hanging over them. Both insist that they need to be honest to fit with the Society they live in.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

The behaviour that a good proportion of these individuals display is definitely dysfunctional and the effects of it on others certainly can be severe when institutional power is used to enables it, yet ultimately, happy people do not have a compulsion to control others in this way or seek retribution for every perceived slight.

That is where compassion comes in, because these individuals generally feel desperately out of control and unhappy, and that isn’t a state that I would wish anyone to live in. Yet ultimately, I as an individual have no control over the way that others perceive themselves and the world, the little control I do have is in how I respond to the world, so the most compassionate thing I can do is hope that these unhappy individuals receive the appropriate therapeutic interventions so they may learn to direct that controlling behaviour inwards in a more constructive way that will improve their situations.

Whilst I cannot condone the damage that these unhappy individuals are doing to others with their litigious and controlling mindset, and outright condemn the institutions that are enabling their dysfunction, the vast majority of destruction they enact is to their own lives, their own bodies and their own relationships.

Last edited 1 year ago by AL Crowe
MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I have two transsexual friends who were hounded off social media and out of their jobs as equality trainers because they refuse to chenge how they describe themselves – as transsexual women who are biological men presenting as women. As people who are much older than most of those screaming “trans women are women/trans men are men” – 153 years between the two – they continue to speak their minds when meeting people often with the threat of violence hanging over them. Both insist that they need to be honest to fit with the Society they live in.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

They should accept themselves the way they are and not damage their bodies with hormones and unnecessary surgeries. There is nothing wrong with being a more “feminine” man or a more “masculine” woman. If they are adults and want to mutilate themselves, it’s their choice, however. Children should not be touched.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Some were operated on when homosexuality was illegal here and in the US. Families pressurised men into surgery often in South America by German surgeons. The men themselves had little choice. So many transsexual women would be healthy gay men if the law had been different.

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Some were operated on when homosexuality was illegal here and in the US. Families pressurised men into surgery often in South America by German surgeons. The men themselves had little choice. So many transsexual women would be healthy gay men if the law had been different.

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Yep, progressive politics is the opposite of cognitive behavioural therapy. It conditions the mind to see evil where it does not exist, it encourages people to control the actions, speech and thoughts of others, it compounds conceit. It deranges people.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

People are losing their jobs today for using the wrong pronoun ie refusing to be forced to call a man a miss or Jane or whatever. These do not appear to be people who need our compassion. More like agree or else.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

They should accept themselves the way they are and not damage their bodies with hormones and unnecessary surgeries. There is nothing wrong with being a more “feminine” man or a more “masculine” woman. If they are adults and want to mutilate themselves, it’s their choice, however. Children should not be touched.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Wrong.
It’s not compassion that has led us here. It’s self interest.

It’s not compassion when those most vociferous about it, have none for the black or Asian victims of gang violence in cities in America, underperforming lower class white boys, Asian college admission candidates, male suicide or domestic violence victims, young girls in a dozen cities in Britain with grooming gangs….

A large part of the support for these trans idiots are college educated, middle to upper class women. You think they support these out of pity or compassion? They know very well that the arguments against allowing trans “women” in female sports or spaces, if they accept them, would undercut their cosy quotas, privileges and diversity seats.

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I don’t think you’ve understood my post. It is a wrong understanding of compassion that has tricked people into going along with this insanity or into being silent.
Most progressive types I’ve met are incapable of describing compassion yet they insist this is their motivation.
Please read it again. Try not to confuse what you currently think I’ve written with what I actually have.
I think you’ll find we will have to agree to agree on much.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yeah not compassion more people pleasers.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

I can have compassion for someone, but still object to them hurting others.

Zeph Smith
Zeph Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Agreed. One of the root semantic distortions powering this ideology is conflating “compassion” with “you must agree with their imaginings of what’s best for society”. Thus, disagreement is inseparable from committing “violence” against them. That’s a dangerous weaponization of “compassion”.

Zeph Smith
Zeph Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Agreed. One of the root semantic distortions powering this ideology is conflating “compassion” with “you must agree with their imaginings of what’s best for society”. Thus, disagreement is inseparable from committing “violence” against them. That’s a dangerous weaponization of “compassion”.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yeah not compassion more people pleasers.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

I can have compassion for someone, but still object to them hurting others.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The middle or upper classes these days seem more prone to delusion than the man in the street. Not all of them of course.

Robin Lillian
RL
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

It’s certainly not compassion when trans people label women they don’t like “TERFS” as a prelude to using violence against them.

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I don’t think you’ve understood my post. It is a wrong understanding of compassion that has tricked people into going along with this insanity or into being silent.
Most progressive types I’ve met are incapable of describing compassion yet they insist this is their motivation.
Please read it again. Try not to confuse what you currently think I’ve written with what I actually have.
I think you’ll find we will have to agree to agree on much.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The middle or upper classes these days seem more prone to delusion than the man in the street. Not all of them of course.

Robin Lillian
RL
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

It’s certainly not compassion when trans people label women they don’t like “TERFS” as a prelude to using violence against them.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Bingo!!!!

Colin Bradley
CB
Colin Bradley
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Rather than a wish that we all could be free from suffering I think compassion is more an expression of willingness to share the burden of suffering, which is of course not a realistic thing to actually do in most cases of suffering, but the expression of willingness to do so assumes that this expression will have a morally uplifting effect which helps to relieve at least the mental anguish associated with the suffering. This is subtly different from empathy which is the actual ability to understand how the suffering affects the person and to be able to convey that understanding.
The attempt at understanding is confounded by the fact of the amorphous label of transgenderism covering several widely differing conditions none of which is a mental illness in the classical sense of mental illness. Gender dysphoria in the very young is not a consciously modulated dysphoric reaction to gender which it would be ludicrous to imagine a young child has any understanding of, but a misperceived link between various apparent prohibitions on favourite toys, names, games and clothes, and the bodily apparatus the child knows defines him/her as boy/girl. If this is allowed or – God forbid even encouraged – to become an obsession then it will morph into a hatred of the child’s own body – a body dysmorphia – and from there to gender dysphoria approaching puberty, the child now acutely aware that the ravages of puberty are only going to make the desired opposite sex role playing even more treacherous.
Since this is a partly societally induced partly selv adopted statement of passion, true compassion is neither humanly possible nor indeed therapeutically relevant, since as you say the impulse to suffer with, alongside the sufferer in this case involves a contrived positive consensual involvement in the delusional (more accurately illusory) narrative of being the opposite of what one is. Empathy with the contingencies of the condition, lack of friends, feelings of suicidality, depression, loneliness and hopelessness etc is however a possibility. The parental role is neither empathy nor compassion but unconditional love, which nevertheless still does not mean buying into the narrative.
“Gender dysphoria” making its debut in middle aged men (never women note) is something completely different and not a dysphoria at all. These men are not at war with their bodies at all and do not suffer discomfort with their maleness. They are usually heterosexual and often married with kids. Their condition is more akin to an addiction and often described as a fetish. It is erotic attraction to an image of the self as woman. Ray Blanchard called it autogynephilia. Autoandrophilia does not exist. Being compassionate with these people means helping them to reflect on the possible negative consequences of their behaviour for the people they are in contact with, particularly families, but also women and children generally, and encouraging them to limit and moderate that behaviour so that its effect on other people is minimal.

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Bradley

I have no wish to share the burden of others’ suffering. That would not be compassionate to me. I have no desire to share the burden of being “trans.” Neither should my wife and daughters when in changing rooms or engaging in sports.
Compassion according to Theravadan scripture is the wish that I, you and others be free from dukkha (unsatisfactoriness.) There are other definitions, but this is the one I find most useful and the one I’m working with.
The compassion I have for “trans people” takes the form of wishing that they be free from suffering, knowing that the only way to be free from suffering in their case is mental development. I cannot solve their problems. They can only do so by learning techniques that allow them to cope with a life not in accordance with their perceptions.
I’d suggest you consider the definition I gave of compassion more examination before amending it or putting it to one side.
It covers a lot of ground.
If you’d like to read more on the topic of compassion see “With compassionate understanding” by Steve and Rosemary Weissman. Their work is very much based on the Pali canon and tailored for lay people and can be of use to both religious and secular people.
Were more people to understand compassion as I’ve described, we would be in far less of a mess than we are with this current trans lunacy.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

We have to love them but cannot be partaker of their delusions.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Very wise and helpful thoughts. Thank you.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

We have to love them but cannot be partaker of their delusions.

Alison Tyler
AT
Alison Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Very wise and helpful thoughts. Thank you.

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Bradley

I have no wish to share the burden of others’ suffering. That would not be compassionate to me. I have no desire to share the burden of being “trans.” Neither should my wife and daughters when in changing rooms or engaging in sports.
Compassion according to Theravadan scripture is the wish that I, you and others be free from dukkha (unsatisfactoriness.) There are other definitions, but this is the one I find most useful and the one I’m working with.
The compassion I have for “trans people” takes the form of wishing that they be free from suffering, knowing that the only way to be free from suffering in their case is mental development. I cannot solve their problems. They can only do so by learning techniques that allow them to cope with a life not in accordance with their perceptions.
I’d suggest you consider the definition I gave of compassion more examination before amending it or putting it to one side.
It covers a lot of ground.
If you’d like to read more on the topic of compassion see “With compassionate understanding” by Steve and Rosemary Weissman. Their work is very much based on the Pali canon and tailored for lay people and can be of use to both religious and secular people.
Were more people to understand compassion as I’ve described, we would be in far less of a mess than we are with this current trans lunacy.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Delia Barkley-Delieu
Delia Barkley-Delieu
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Bravo. I thank you for clarifying for me so many muddled thoughts regarding the “trans men are women” blatant lie.
I do not want to appear unsympathetic to men who feel the need to dress as women; I believe we should be true to ourselves.

I am however enraged that men in frocks feel they have every right to share the private spaces women need. Women bleed They take longer to use a toilet or changing room because of dress, undergarments, sanitary wear and personal hygiene issues, as well as the need to attend to young children and assist with their toileting, changing or dressing. Men, ie, people with penises and testosterone, (no matter their attire) have no right to be there or witness any of this. It is a violation of female privacy and safety. Most women feel outrage that they feel pressured to accept the trans activist lobby’s imposition of their freedoms, their private spaces. To lack compassion labels a questioning, fearful woman ‘a bigot’.
I have sympathy for men who have transitioned fully.To live as a woman is a challenge but it is something they need to do and they have undergone invasive surgery and hormonal treatment to correct an imbalance.This full transition of course muddies the transgender debate waters.
I feel you summed it up perfectly with the lines folk “realise that it isn’t compassionate to indulge delusions. That by affirming a persons delusions (lying to them) you take them further away from what would help them, and what would be compassionate – learning tools and techniques that allow them to cope with a world not in accordance with their perceptions.”
Thank you. I know my anger is justified and women everywhere and the men who love and support them, must stand together to fight this madness many would like us to accept as ‘normal’. Sane people cannot normalise ‘delusions’.
 

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

It’s called tough love.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

It’s called tough love.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Surely compassion requires competence, hence being trained in First Aid and it is not compassionate to indulge in delusions. If one is not trained in first aid one does not touch the injured but goes for help.
Comassion requires attention and surely one should prioritise those at greatest risk of death?

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

If you are talking about the desire to help in a material way, yes, that requires competency. But I don’t have to be knowledgable in first aid to have compassion for someone who is suffering. Compassion is the wish that I you and others be free from suffering. This compassion may motivate me to learn first aid. It may also motivate me to learn to swim, it can be the motivation to learn many skills.
Competency is needed to understand that compassion has many facets. And that indulgence of delusion is not one of them.
Now, it’s not clear from your post – is it that you believe trans people are at greatest risk of death? If that was your point, you might want to read this on the topic.
https://thecritic.co.uk/neither-marginalised-abused-nor-vulnerable/
As for to whom compassion should be directed towards, the answer is towards the end of my original post – all.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Nobody is going to get help for them. Most of them don’t want it I would think. Besides it might become a crime to help them the way the tories are going.

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

If you are talking about the desire to help in a material way, yes, that requires competency. But I don’t have to be knowledgable in first aid to have compassion for someone who is suffering. Compassion is the wish that I you and others be free from suffering. This compassion may motivate me to learn first aid. It may also motivate me to learn to swim, it can be the motivation to learn many skills.
Competency is needed to understand that compassion has many facets. And that indulgence of delusion is not one of them.
Now, it’s not clear from your post – is it that you believe trans people are at greatest risk of death? If that was your point, you might want to read this on the topic.
https://thecritic.co.uk/neither-marginalised-abused-nor-vulnerable/
As for to whom compassion should be directed towards, the answer is towards the end of my original post – all.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Nobody is going to get help for them. Most of them don’t want it I would think. Besides it might become a crime to help them the way the tories are going.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Speaking the truth in love fits. Agreeing with falsehoods is not real love.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Conrad
Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yes, but also people should be taught that compassion can apply to how one treats, or reacts to, suffering of any degree. But that compassion does not, cannot, apply to facts about others. Thus to say that we should show compassion to a man who now feels he is a woman makes no sense at all, and can only result in the kind of confusion the author describes. Regardless of what the postmodern woke creed may say, feelings and facts really are quite different – that has to be a basic tenet prior to any/all rational discussion. And it may be worth discovering if someone accepts that prior to engaging in discussion at all. However much a man may FEEL he is a woman, and perhaps deserve compassion for that; it can never alter the FACT that he is, and always will be, a man.

N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

I think it would help if you looked again at how I defined compassion.
You can have compassion for anyone who is suffering. You can wish that they were not. In the knowledge that often the only way out of the suffering would be mental development.
If a man thinks he is a woman, my wish is that he would come to learn how to cope with a life not in accordance with his perceptions rather than coerce others in to believing or going along with his delusion. That is what compassion would look like. In a more compassionate society, he would be offered these techniques. As it is, we are coercing one another to go along with their delusions and treating mental formations with surgery.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
N Forster
NF
N Forster
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

I think it would help if you looked again at how I defined compassion.
You can have compassion for anyone who is suffering. You can wish that they were not. In the knowledge that often the only way out of the suffering would be mental development.
If a man thinks he is a woman, my wish is that he would come to learn how to cope with a life not in accordance with his perceptions rather than coerce others in to believing or going along with his delusion. That is what compassion would look like. In a more compassionate society, he would be offered these techniques. As it is, we are coercing one another to go along with their delusions and treating mental formations with surgery.

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
B Davis
B Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Nicely said…and, indeed, truly compassionate. But what does this actually mean?
In reality, the hurly-burly of our day-to-day requires us…allows us…enables us to — as you say — “continue with our lives as they are”. No more, no less.
Yes, in the abstract, and when we sign checks to various charities or hear about a particularly horrendous tragedy, yes — we can feel, quite sincerely, that there should be less suffering in the world. But most typically we mail the check (or submit the e-payment) and we’re good. Life goes on.
Save for the odd Saint, we all have enough on our plate …and part of that ‘plateful’ is dealing with our own suffering, carrying our own particular cross, whatever it may be.
166K people die every single day. Today, not us. The dead — most of the time — remain somewhere else, happening to someone else. And so we go on. And truthfully, we go on carrying with us a certain bland indifference (as cruel and heartless as it sounds) to prevent being crippled by an otherwise endless grief.
Certainly, when circumstance calls our attention to a particular tragedy, our broad indifference, our ‘equanimity’, such as it is, is pierced — and we stand, stunned by the Falling Man, who threw himself into that crystal-blue New York morning to save himself from the the fires inside those Twin Towers. And we think, ‘My God…what have we become that this is our shared Today.”
And yet we go on.
And truthfully, in the litany of Horrible Things destroying Lives across the World, the man that imagines himself woman is a very little thing, deserving of a very little compassion. Rather we should save it for those who would not ask it, who do not expect it. We should reserve our hearts for those who do not, with offended outrage, demand it.

John Clinch
John Clinch
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yes it does. As the late, great Christopher Hitchens warned, ‘distrust compassion’.
It’s a bit like empathy – necessary for goodness but not sufficient. And often a double-edged sword

Josh Bailey
JB
Josh Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

My first comment on Unherd: this was excellently expressed. I am a vicar so will need to speak to my congregations on this point. Please may I quote you, probably as ‘one commenter on a news website’ – or by name, if you prefer?: “Without equanimity, compassion falls into either anger or grief. And we can see plenty of this from trans-extremists.”- along with a paraphrase of your definition, which is totally consonant with the Bible. The train of thought is very evocative of Jonathan Haidt in ‘the Coddling of the American Mind’, but I think you said it more succinctly and incisively.

Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Indeed. An example of false compassion might be assuring morbidly obese people that their over-eating is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice, that they should be ‘body positive’ and that to criticize their choices and diet as unhealthy is ‘fat phobic’ and discriminatory. One of these body positive obese models died of a massive heart attack just the other day, she was only in her 30’s. Is it really compassionate to go along with and re-enforce such people’s delusions or is it in truth just virtue signaling cowardice?
When a girl with extreme anorexia looks at herself in the mirror, she sees a fat person, everyone else sees a living skeleton. Should we go along with the idea that she is indeed fat? Should we validate ‘her truth’?
When a middle aged, paunchy, knobbley-kneed, lantern jawed ‘trans woman’ looks at herself in the mirror, presumably she sees a beautiful woman, yet everyone else sees a ridiculous pantomime dame. I really do not mind going along for the sake of common decency, with the idea that such transvestites are ‘women’, but to actually expect me to believe it to the extent that I’d be quite happy for such a person to share a changing room or showers with my fifteen year old daughter? Oh please!

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Of course now, many with trans identities are not suffering from any particular identifiable condition for which compassion would be athe appropriate response. That is the whole point of Gender Self Id – it removes, and negates, the need for a diagnosis of dysphoria.
And even then, compassion does not mean going along with someone’s deluded inner feeling that they are something which they are not. It is one thing to have fellow feeling, another to have to validate that feeling.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jane Anderson
Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

I read your post carefully but while I agree with your general argument, I don’t agree with your definition of compassion, “feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others”, nor of equanimity, “calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation”.
Where we agree is that compassion is about empathy. But why should my compassion for another entitle that other to impose their “identity” on me, with all its consequences, irrespective of my feelings? To accept this would be to subordinate my feelings to that other person. In other words “trans” people are demanding more compassion from others than they themselves are prepared to extend to those others. This has real world consequences. And because that is so and because we live in proximity to others within a society, the identity someone feels must not be allowed to impose on the identities of the majority where it is to their detriment. Instead, the majority in a compassionate society needs to find ways of helping “trans” people, IMO a mainly pychological delusion where it is not merely a calculating way to enter a sex segregated space, to cope with their delusion.
And that brings me to your well expressed sentence: “by affirming a persons delusions (lying to them) you take them further away from what would help them, and what would be compassionate – learning tools and techniques that allow them to cope with a world not in accordance with their perceptions.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Howard Gleave
AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

One lifelong friend of mine is currently rather upset with me regarding my views on trans and non-binary identity, and told me quite crossly to “be kind” the other day. I responded by saying that it isn’t kind to encourage already vulnerable individuals to think that they can control how others speak and think about gender and sex or how our society references sex and gender, let alone mutilate their bodies when the issue they have is not with their bodies, but with their minds.

All this ideology does is contribute to their misery, it doesn’t empower them to be themselves or accept themselves as they are, it doesn’t foster understanding and inclusion, it ensures that most with healthy boundaries minimise their contact with them rather than deal with someone trying to control how they think and the language they use, and sets people on a path of unnecessary lifelong medical interventions that all come with severe side effects and complications.

Last edited 1 year ago by AL Crowe
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Wrong.
It’s not compassion that has led us here. It’s self interest.

It’s not compassion when those most vociferous about it, have none for the black or Asian victims of gang violence in cities in America, underperforming lower class white boys, Asian college admission candidates, male suicide or domestic violence victims, young girls in a dozen cities in Britain with grooming gangs….

A large part of the support for these trans idiots are college educated, middle to upper class women. You think they support these out of pity or compassion? They know very well that the arguments against allowing trans “women” in female sports or spaces, if they accept them, would undercut their cosy quotas, privileges and diversity seats.

0 0
0
0 0
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Bingo!!!!

Colin Bradley
Colin Bradley
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Rather than a wish that we all could be free from suffering I think compassion is more an expression of willingness to share the burden of suffering, which is of course not a realistic thing to actually do in most cases of suffering, but the expression of willingness to do so assumes that this expression will have a morally uplifting effect which helps to relieve at least the mental anguish associated with the suffering. This is subtly different from empathy which is the actual ability to understand how the suffering affects the person and to be able to convey that understanding.
The attempt at understanding is confounded by the fact of the amorphous label of transgenderism covering several widely differing conditions none of which is a mental illness in the classical sense of mental illness. Gender dysphoria in the very young is not a consciously modulated dysphoric reaction to gender which it would be ludicrous to imagine a young child has any understanding of, but a misperceived link between various apparent prohibitions on favourite toys, names, games and clothes, and the bodily apparatus the child knows defines him/her as boy/girl. If this is allowed or – God forbid even encouraged – to become an obsession then it will morph into a hatred of the child’s own body – a body dysmorphia – and from there to gender dysphoria approaching puberty, the child now acutely aware that the ravages of puberty are only going to make the desired opposite sex role playing even more treacherous.
Since this is a partly societally induced partly selv adopted statement of passion, true compassion is neither humanly possible nor indeed therapeutically relevant, since as you say the impulse to suffer with, alongside the sufferer in this case involves a contrived positive consensual involvement in the delusional (more accurately illusory) narrative of being the opposite of what one is. Empathy with the contingencies of the condition, lack of friends, feelings of suicidality, depression, loneliness and hopelessness etc is however a possibility. The parental role is neither empathy nor compassion but unconditional love, which nevertheless still does not mean buying into the narrative.
“Gender dysphoria” making its debut in middle aged men (never women note) is something completely different and not a dysphoria at all. These men are not at war with their bodies at all and do not suffer discomfort with their maleness. They are usually heterosexual and often married with kids. Their condition is more akin to an addiction and often described as a fetish. It is erotic attraction to an image of the self as woman. Ray Blanchard called it autogynephilia. Autoandrophilia does not exist. Being compassionate with these people means helping them to reflect on the possible negative consequences of their behaviour for the people they are in contact with, particularly families, but also women and children generally, and encouraging them to limit and moderate that behaviour so that its effect on other people is minimal.

Delia Barkley-Delieu
DB
Delia Barkley-Delieu
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Bravo. I thank you for clarifying for me so many muddled thoughts regarding the “trans men are women” blatant lie.
I do not want to appear unsympathetic to men who feel the need to dress as women; I believe we should be true to ourselves.

I am however enraged that men in frocks feel they have every right to share the private spaces women need. Women bleed They take longer to use a toilet or changing room because of dress, undergarments, sanitary wear and personal hygiene issues, as well as the need to attend to young children and assist with their toileting, changing or dressing. Men, ie, people with penises and testosterone, (no matter their attire) have no right to be there or witness any of this. It is a violation of female privacy and safety. Most women feel outrage that they feel pressured to accept the trans activist lobby’s imposition of their freedoms, their private spaces. To lack compassion labels a questioning, fearful woman ‘a bigot’.
I have sympathy for men who have transitioned fully.To live as a woman is a challenge but it is something they need to do and they have undergone invasive surgery and hormonal treatment to correct an imbalance.This full transition of course muddies the transgender debate waters.
I feel you summed it up perfectly with the lines folk “realise that it isn’t compassionate to indulge delusions. That by affirming a persons delusions (lying to them) you take them further away from what would help them, and what would be compassionate – learning tools and techniques that allow them to cope with a world not in accordance with their perceptions.”
Thank you. I know my anger is justified and women everywhere and the men who love and support them, must stand together to fight this madness many would like us to accept as ‘normal’. Sane people cannot normalise ‘delusions’.
 

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Surely compassion requires competence, hence being trained in First Aid and it is not compassionate to indulge in delusions. If one is not trained in first aid one does not touch the injured but goes for help.
Comassion requires attention and surely one should prioritise those at greatest risk of death?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Speaking the truth in love fits. Agreeing with falsehoods is not real love.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Conrad
Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yes, but also people should be taught that compassion can apply to how one treats, or reacts to, suffering of any degree. But that compassion does not, cannot, apply to facts about others. Thus to say that we should show compassion to a man who now feels he is a woman makes no sense at all, and can only result in the kind of confusion the author describes. Regardless of what the postmodern woke creed may say, feelings and facts really are quite different – that has to be a basic tenet prior to any/all rational discussion. And it may be worth discovering if someone accepts that prior to engaging in discussion at all. However much a man may FEEL he is a woman, and perhaps deserve compassion for that; it can never alter the FACT that he is, and always will be, a man.

B Davis
B Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Nicely said…and, indeed, truly compassionate. But what does this actually mean?
In reality, the hurly-burly of our day-to-day requires us…allows us…enables us to — as you say — “continue with our lives as they are”. No more, no less.
Yes, in the abstract, and when we sign checks to various charities or hear about a particularly horrendous tragedy, yes — we can feel, quite sincerely, that there should be less suffering in the world. But most typically we mail the check (or submit the e-payment) and we’re good. Life goes on.
Save for the odd Saint, we all have enough on our plate …and part of that ‘plateful’ is dealing with our own suffering, carrying our own particular cross, whatever it may be.
166K people die every single day. Today, not us. The dead — most of the time — remain somewhere else, happening to someone else. And so we go on. And truthfully, we go on carrying with us a certain bland indifference (as cruel and heartless as it sounds) to prevent being crippled by an otherwise endless grief.
Certainly, when circumstance calls our attention to a particular tragedy, our broad indifference, our ‘equanimity’, such as it is, is pierced — and we stand, stunned by the Falling Man, who threw himself into that crystal-blue New York morning to save himself from the the fires inside those Twin Towers. And we think, ‘My God…what have we become that this is our shared Today.”
And yet we go on.
And truthfully, in the litany of Horrible Things destroying Lives across the World, the man that imagines himself woman is a very little thing, deserving of a very little compassion. Rather we should save it for those who would not ask it, who do not expect it. We should reserve our hearts for those who do not, with offended outrage, demand it.

John Clinch
JC
John Clinch
1 year ago
Reply to  N Forster

Yes it does. As the late, great Christopher Hitchens warned, ‘distrust compassion’.
It’s a bit like empathy – necessary for goodness but not sufficient. And often a double-edged sword

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago

It might be useful for people to be taught or at least encouraged to discuss or think about what compassion actually is. What qualities should compassion be balanced with? And what does compassion become if not balanced? For often, people are told that if they don’t go along with the lie that “trans women are women” that they lack compassion. And that if we don’t have compassion, we should feel shame.

The reality is that compassion (the wish that I, you and others be free from suffering) must be balanced with equanimity (the understanding that I, you and others will without exception suffer in this life.) Without equanimity, compassion falls into either anger or grief. And we can see plenty of this from trans-extremists. Likewise, without compassion, equanimity falls into indifference. 

Only by contemplating what compassion is and how it looks in practice might folk realise that it isn’t compassionate to indulge delusions. That by affirming a persons delusions (lying to them) you take them further away from what would help them, and what would be compassionate – learning tools and techniques that allow them to cope with a world not in accordance with their perceptions. To understand that their condition, be it gender dysphoria, body dysmorphia, AGF or whatever it is, places them on the margins of society. And that society will accommodate them to a degree, but that compassion has also to be directed to the vast majority who do not suffer from these conditions. 

Compassion for all would mean the majority of us can continue with our lives as they are: segregated by sex when it matters, and those with these conditions can be offered help in the form of mental tools and techniques if they want them and are willing to practice them.

Compassion and equanimity need to be supported by wisdom. 

Last edited 1 year ago by N Forster
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

“But — not to put too fine a point on it — humans aren’t fish.”
Try telling Sturgeon and Salmond.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Frank McCusker
FM
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Very unfair on Salmond, who has strongly attacked Sturgeon’s position on trans:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11721761/Alex-Salmond-slams-Nicola-Sturgeon-nonsense-gender-rules-overhaul.html

MJ Reid
MR
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Just saying what 66% of the Scottish population want to say abnd can’t without being branded as transphobic or bigots…

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I’m guessing that Paddy Taylor was referring simply to their last names, not to their positions in the trans debate.

Davy Humerme
Davy Humerme
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yes Salmond and the Alba party have been very critical of this mince. Others in the critical independence movement have been campaigning against it for years. Sadly labour fell in lockstep with the NuSNP and Greens because they all want appeal to Students and graduate midwits. They are also eyeing the votes of the Titiana McGrath’s immature school kids who will get to vote in the next Holyrood election. Salmond is standing for Scottish Enlightenment values. He also recognises that independence at the teat of Brussels is untenable. He just has to map out these positions more volubly so that they can call him Scotland’s Farage!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Davy Humerme

The debtor is servant to the lender. In the end their help will make you their slave.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Davy Humerme

The debtor is servant to the lender. In the end their help will make you their slave.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Just saying what 66% of the Scottish population want to say abnd can’t without being branded as transphobic or bigots…

harry storm
HS
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I’m guessing that Paddy Taylor was referring simply to their last names, not to their positions in the trans debate.

Davy Humerme
Davy Humerme
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yes Salmond and the Alba party have been very critical of this mince. Others in the critical independence movement have been campaigning against it for years. Sadly labour fell in lockstep with the NuSNP and Greens because they all want appeal to Students and graduate midwits. They are also eyeing the votes of the Titiana McGrath’s immature school kids who will get to vote in the next Holyrood election. Salmond is standing for Scottish Enlightenment values. He also recognises that independence at the teat of Brussels is untenable. He just has to map out these positions more volubly so that they can call him Scotland’s Farage!

Andrew Wise
AW
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

They both sound like aquatic animals 🙂

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Fishself has been triggered by this statement!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

A case of Roe v Weighed?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Should the scandal be referred to as Billingsgate?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

‘Cod War’ more like.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

‘Cod War’ more like.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Very subtle. Took a minute to get that one. Good work.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Genius comment.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Should the scandal be referred to as Billingsgate?

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Very subtle. Took a minute to get that one. Good work.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Genius comment.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

A case of Roe v Weighed?

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Boom, boom! again, Paddy.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Sadly lost on the distressingly literal Frank McC.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Sadly lost on the distressingly literal Frank McC.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Very unfair on Salmond, who has strongly attacked Sturgeon’s position on trans:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11721761/Alex-Salmond-slams-Nicola-Sturgeon-nonsense-gender-rules-overhaul.html

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

They both sound like aquatic animals 🙂

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Fishself has been triggered by this statement!

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Boom, boom! again, Paddy.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

“But — not to put too fine a point on it — humans aren’t fish.”
Try telling Sturgeon and Salmond.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Elliott Bjorn
EB
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

”Yet the “trans women are women” answer remains an intriguing one. To my mind, the fact that 34% neither agree nor disagree is telling. And I don’t blame people for feeling befuddled.”

People are stupid, ‘transwomen’ are just disturbed men who are being pandered to – to everyone’s harm.

haha

Huub ter Beek
Huub ter Beek
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

Much confusion can be avoided ,if before answering the question, “are transwomen women?” the question, “define Transwoman” is answered first. Then it will turn out, because by no means everyone understands the same thing, that this question cannot be answered. For now, I stick to biology. XX is female, XY is male. And anyone who has problems with this should see a psychiatrist. 

Nancy G
Nancy G
1 year ago
Reply to  Huub ter Beek

Thank you for pointing out the need for definitions. As Kathleen Stock has pointed out, the obfuscation (conflating ‘sex’ with ‘gender’, using ‘transwoman’ as a cover term for all manifestations of ‘transwoman’hood) has been a very successful strategy for the trans rights organisations. The media, pollsters, etc have colluded by their lack of precise language.

Rob C
Rob C
1 year ago
Reply to  Huub ter Beek

Isn’t it just a matter of semantics? Is a woman a person born with a female body or is a woman someone who feels they are a woman?

Huub ter Beek
HB
Huub ter Beek
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob C

Basically, a woman is a person, who, determined by her chromosomes, feels like a woman. And there has always been a very small group of individuals, where something went wrong in the embryonic stage, and who had both male and female physical characteristics, and where it was indeed unclear whether they are male or female. The gender assigned at birth can become problematic in these individuals later in life.
Then there is also a very small group where gender dysphoria occurs from childhood. Physically, they are normal boys or girls, but in their minds they feel they are the opposite sex.
But the huge increase in recent years of individuals where, in later, adolescent age, they start feeling “different” is pathological. It strikes me as mass hysteria, and must be stopped.

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
1 year ago
Reply to  Huub ter Beek

“It strikes me as mass hysteria, and must be stopped.”

How?

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
1 year ago
Reply to  Huub ter Beek

“It strikes me as mass hysteria, and must be stopped.”

How?

Huub ter Beek
Huub ter Beek
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob C

Basically, a woman is a person, who, determined by her chromosomes, feels like a woman. And there has always been a very small group of individuals, where something went wrong in the embryonic stage, and who had both male and female physical characteristics, and where it was indeed unclear whether they are male or female. The gender assigned at birth can become problematic in these individuals later in life.
Then there is also a very small group where gender dysphoria occurs from childhood. Physically, they are normal boys or girls, but in their minds they feel they are the opposite sex.
But the huge increase in recent years of individuals where, in later, adolescent age, they start feeling “different” is pathological. It strikes me as mass hysteria, and must be stopped.

Robin Lillian
RL
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Huub ter Beek

People are confusing biology with social roles. Native American groups allowed men who wanted to be sqaws to fill that social role without drugs or surgery. Of course, they were also not permitted to attack biological women.

Nancy G
Nancy G
1 year ago
Reply to  Huub ter Beek

Thank you for pointing out the need for definitions. As Kathleen Stock has pointed out, the obfuscation (c