Gird your loins, so to speak. 2023 looks set to be the year the female penis strides into the spotlight.
It was the storm over the Scottish Prison Service and its sending of violent sex offenders to women’s prisons that first brought the “female penis” to public attention. During his trial, the now convicted rapist Andrew Graham, a self-styled transwoman who calls himself “Isla Bryson”, was defended in court in Glasgow by lawyers who referred to “her penis”. They also called Graham “she” and not in a camp Drag Race way.
It revealed that 97 per cent of transwomen had had no surgery at all
If there was an upside of the case — other than the fact Graham was convicted — it is that the media coverage has been a game changer. It’s not just that Scottish parliamentarians are now tying themselves into knots trying to defend a scenario they claimed only a few weeks ago was ludicrously unlikely: a sex offender abusing gender self-ID to gain access to single sex spaces. It also alerted the general public to an important fact about transwomen which the trans lobby has preferred to keep carefully tucked away. The vast majority of transwomen are — endowed.
Up to now, apart from the occasional Ricky Gervais sketch, it was possible for most people to assume that most transwomen were like the transsexuals of yore, who sacrificed their genitals to the surgeon’s knife in a desperate attempt to become some sort of simulacrum of a woman. No one could deny this showed commitment. Of a sort.
In a documentary I made for ITV over 20 years ago, April Ashley, the first transwoman in the UK to undergo what in the early 1960s was called a sex change, described the unbelievable pain of the operation at the hands of Dr Burou in Casablanca. At least there was some sort of wayward logic to April’s story. If you hate your male body to the point of suicidality, then I suppose losing your genitals no longer feels like such a terrible outcome.
It was this desperate argument that gave us the original Gender Recognition Act in 2004. Hansard’s record of the debate is full of references to the courage of a tiny, vulnerable minority who were so troubled they were driven to radically change their body.
Although gender recognition was not made dependent on surgery, the implication was that those who didn’t avail themselves would be a miniscule exception. As the years rolled by, and trans people became more accepted, and the definition of trans expanded exponentially, the central importance of surgery to transwomen dwindled. In 2018 when the feminist organisation Fair Play for Women studied the evidence, it revealed that 97 per cent of transwomen had had no surgery at all.
This posed a dilemma for the trans lobby. It knew that the public would not be happy with a man who said he was now a woman entering women’s spaces if he brought his best friend with him. Indeed in the latest poll in the wake of the “Isla Bryson” case, Yougov reveals that a solid 48 per cent thought males who had not had genital surgery — even if they were convicted of no sex offences — should be placed in male prisons, compared to 20 per cent who thought they should be placed in the women’s estate.
As a response to growing awareness, trans activists began to take a new line. Now they claimed that the expectation that becoming a woman legally should require physical change is unbelievable bigotry. That’s why self-ID gets rid of the need for any medical diagnosis. How dare we expect people who want access to medical treatment to have a medical diagnosis. Instead a new model is posited that does away completely with the need for physical change.
His penis? That was always female. Da nah!
The argument runs like this. Whenever someone male thinks he is a female then that means he — sorry, she — instantly becomes female. That’s not all. This then also erases his “male” past, because it means he must have always been a biological female. His penis? That was always female. Da nah!
The argument is encapsulated by the prominent American trans activist Chase Strangio, who in 2016 pushed the new orthodoxy: there is no such thing as an inherently male or a female body. Our bodies have no biological sex until we decide what sex they are:
By embracing a narrative that one is born with a “male body,” we reinforce the idea that only the bodies we assign male at birth — bodies that have medically normative penises — are male.
If you’ve ever been confused by how proponents of trans rights can maintain that gender self-ID doesn’t in any way infringe on single sex spaces, then the missing piece of the jigsaw is this trick that switches the biology of a male person on a whim. This allows trans activists to argue single sex spaces remain single sex because any penis attached to a male body becomes a female appendage, and its owner is a biological female too. In effect a woman could enter a crowded changing room where she was the only person without a penis, and she’d still be in a single sex space — as long as all the other blokes believed they were females.
This raises an important point. If and when the UK government ever gets around to emphasising biological sex in the Equality Act, defining “woman” as an “adult human female” won’t be enough. “Female” will have to be defined too. The possession of a penis at any stage in a person’s life should exclude them from that category.
The trans lobby seems to believe the invention of the “female penis” is a brilliant sleight of hand. I’m not so sure. Over the years the public has tolerantly, if often rather reluctantly, gone along with each increasingly bizarre claim from the trans lobby. Surely, with growing public awareness, the female penis really won’t stand up.
Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print
Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10Subscribe