A heartbreaking work of staggering narcissism

Grace Lavery reveals the delusions of transgender ideology

Artillery Row

Grace Lavery — trans activist, Berkeley academic and author of Please Miss: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Penis is currently doing the rounds for their* UK book tour. In the process, Lavery is doing a better job than any so-called TERF of convincing the public that transgender ideology is both mad and misogynistic.

“Can women have a penis?” Emma Barnett asked her guest Lavery on Woman’s Hour yesterday. It is incumbent upon all narcissists to first, before answering this question, pick up on the semantics and grammatical errors involved in those five words. For Lavery, it sounded as if the question was about whether women can have access to a penis, one that is — presumably — attached to a man. Who knows? The shlong is obviously a floating signifier, at least as far as Queer Theory goes. We will return to the penis shortly (a phrase that very few lesbians utter).

The tour is not going as well as Lavery imagined it would. First, they planned on wiping the floor with both Helen Joyce and I in two separate debates — apparently one of the world’s greatest debaters, they nevertheless pulled out of both. 

Gender Goblin Laurie Penny, who is equally invested in the “some women have penises” school of logic, is an ex of Lavery’s. I mention this only because Penny has often bragged about it on social media. Penny was conversing with Lavery, prior to them chickening out, about their debating skills. 

As Lavery Tweeted to Penny: “I won Cambridge union in 2000 and 2001, Debater of the Year at Oxford in 2002, was runner-up in the world championships in 2000, and #3 Individual speaker in the world in 2001. So it’s been 20 years, but at least historically this is something I’ve been good at.”

Penny, replied, “Yes darling I know. You told me on our first date. That’s why I’m glad you’re on our side.” The exchange between the pair then turned into discussing Lavery’s skills in the sack, which Penny remarked she* might put on a T-shirt. I will spare you the details.

I will not use female pronouns for Lavery because of the sheer amount of willy in the book 

What made Lavery change their mind after being so confident that they could destroy me and Helen Joyce in a debate? Well, obviously, it was that they “realised” Helen Joyce is nothing but a fascist and that, although I am “reasonable” and “thoughtful”, they were under pressure from their trans siblings. Also, some horrible TERF had sent pornographic photographs — which Lavery had previously made public — of Lavery and their husband to Lavery’s mother.

Ho hum.

It’s a shame, really, because I love meeting other feminists, and Lavery’s feminism is extremely radical. For example, they wrote: “There is something about being treated like shit by men that feels like affirmation itself, like a cry of delight from the deepest cavern of my breast.” And let’s not forget this classic: “To be the victim of honest, undisguised sexism possesses an exhilarating vitality.”

Back to the penis. On Woman’s Hour, Lavery further trans-plained to Barnett how her question (“Can a woman have a penis?”) was, in so many ways, incorrect:

Grammatically it’s quite a strange construction anyway, whether a woman can have a penis, because it sounds as if it’s a woman who is asking permission to have a penis, rather than whether or not the category woman includes a subcategory of people that have a penis.

Reasonable people agree with Lavery, they said, and if they don’t, it is because they uphold and support patriarchy. Barnett pulled Lavery up on this because, as she pointed out, the opponents to the “some women have penises” mantra are, in the main, feminists that do little else but campaign to dismantle patriarchy all its forms.

But Lavery persisted: “The question, can a woman have a penis, strikes me as a deliberately misleading construction”, admonishing Barnett and telling her that they had, given their reasons and explained “three times why that is a bizarre and pointless question!” Lavery was exasperated that there remains a group of women that do not believe “woman” includes a subclass of women that have penises.

Although some of Lavery’s theories are funny, there are those that are deeply, fundamentally offensive and plain misogynistic. In their new book, Lavery describes their penis as feeling “as though I were laying my own miscarried foetus across my hand”. 

One of the reasons I will not use female pronouns for Lavery is because of the sheer amount of willy in the book. As one feminist friend remarked when I was explaining the use of the term “her erect penis” in a liberal British newspaper when reporting on the trans-identified sex offender Karen White who had sexually assaulted female prisoners: “The only time the use of the phrase ‘her penis’ is acceptable is if a woman castrates her rapist and holds it up as a kind of trophy.”

There are some strategic trans activists, those who do not let their narcissism override common sense, but Lavery is not one of them. The interview on Woman’s Hour was a foolish idea and no doubt opened the eyes of many to the delusion of transgender ideology. Let’s have more of it, please, even if it does mean more penis.

*I cannot use “she/her” for Lavery; this is a compromise. 

*I am using “she” for Penny, despite the fact that last time I ascribed this pronoun to her on this platform, her publishers complained about misgendering “They/them”. Since that time, Penny has added “she” to her Twitter bio.

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