Identity is the issue of our age: so why can’t we talk more honestly about trans women?

Lifelong feminists, especially older ones, who express any reservations about eliding the experiences of trans and cis women are dismissed as bigoted ol’ bitches – and maybe some are. But there are real ethical issues here, and they overwhelmingly affect women.

Sport is one obvious example. Male-born bodies have had different testosterone levels and muscle distribution from female ones. No one knows what the solution is but pretending there isn’t a difference is ridiculous. Then there are prisons. It’s easy to cheer on Chelsea Manning, but Ian Huntley – who now reportedly wishes to be known as Lian Huntley and be transferred to a women’s prison – is a tougher sell. Should a man with a history of crimes against women and girls really be in a female prison?

In January, it was reported that the British Medical Association advised that instead of referring to “expectant mothers”, health providers should talk about the less exclusionary “pregnant people”. Some young feminists are even asking if it’s OK to use the words “female” and “woman” – yet men are not being urged to avoid mentioning their gender. Is it any wonder some women are calling bullshit?

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