Dan­ger­ous stance

THE (Times Higher Education) - - LET­TERS -

The co-au­thors’ re­sponse (Let­ters, 22 March) to my re­view of Trans­gen­der Chil­dren and Young Peo­ple: Born In Your Own Body (Books, 15 March) mis­casts my cri­tique as per­son­alised. I did not call them “trans-ex­clu­sion­ary fem­i­nists” (TERFs), be­cause they self-iden­tify oth­er­wise (a priv­i­lege that their book de­nies oth­ers). I used “white mid­dle-class” to de­scribe not the writ­ers but the ge­neal­ogy of the book’s core ideas: some con­trib­u­tors dip into queer/trans­gen­der stud­ies, but highly se­lec­tively, ig­nor­ing con­tem­po­rary lib­er­a­tory ideas that in­cor­po­rate the dif­fer­ences the book is fix­ated on re­ject­ing.

Just as prob­lem­atic was the book’s cir­cum­ven­tion of the cur­rent ev­i­dence base on trans­gen­der youth. It claimed a transsup­port­ive cul­ture and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble med­i­cal treat­ment, for which there is no ev­i­dence. The au­thors po­si­tion my re­view as an at­tempt to shut down crit­i­cal scru­tiny, which is re­served for their own per­spec­tive. It is worth re­stat­ing their main ar­gu­ment – “trans­gen­der chil­dren don’t ex­ist” – which by any stan­dards is an ex­treme stance and, for many, is dan­ger­ous.

Fi­nally, I sense an im­pli­ca­tion that as a ge­og­ra­pher I lack qual­i­fi­ca­tion to de­bate this sub­ject. We hu­man ge­og­ra­phers get used to this, but I’m guess­ing that my 30 years of study­ing gen­der, not glaciers, are a fair match for any of the book’s con­trib­u­tors, and get­ting on for 30 more than some. Rachel Pain

Pro­fes­sor of hu­man geog­ra­phy New­cas­tle Univer­sity

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