"But how can you live and have no story to tell?" Fyodor Dostoevsky
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell.
This week a UK court convicted Karen White to life in prison for raping two women and sexual assaults. These crimes happened inside a women's prison, and the victims were other inmates. Further, White has previous convictions for rape and sexual assaults on children. Hang on, can you spot the problem with this?
A clue perhaps from the prosecutors in court "The defendant would stand very close to [the victim], touch her arm and wink at her. Her penis was erect and sticking out of the top of her trousers." Note the words used ..." Her penis".
Here's the thing, White claimed to be transgender; thus, under the Home Office rules, he entered a female prison. Furthermore, prosecutors said there was evidence to suggest White's "approach to transitioning has been less than committed". Really! What a surprise.
Of course, White is a man who gamed the system to access vulnerable victims. The UK authorities facilitated these attacks as they kowtowed to an activist agenda. This agenda insists that if someone declares themselves a female, then treat them as a female. It follows on from the whole pronoun shenanigans. Moreover, you are immediately transphobic if you dare to speak against this nonsense.
Moreover, the radicals have harnessed the muscle of the British police to shut down and prosecute dissenters. The cops appear happy to comply because it's easier than chasing actual crime. But that's another story.
Karen White claimed to be undergoing gender reassignment. But had not had sex reassignment surgery, meaning Karen White had all the gear of a male. By the way, studies suggest 72% of folks claiming to be transgender don't undergo surgery to change their birth sex organs. That's their choice. But don't expect to be treated as a woman in such circumstances.
This saga is not a bizarre or isolated incident. Instead, it's part of a trend in the UK brought about by blind adherence to dogma rather than applying common sense. In another case, a 12-year-old girl reported a fellow pupil in the girls changing room "played with a penis." Confused parents then approached the school to find the pupil mentioned had declared as a girl.
As per policy, this person had access to the female changing rooms. When the parents raised objections, they were admonished. The school felt the parents lacked an understanding of a child's transgender status.
The fact that girls had to witness this person playing with themselves appeared irrelevant to the school. That's the extent of the unfolding madness. Meanwhile, other parents discovered their teenage daughters accommodated with boys on school trips. These girls asserted themselves as male. The parents were kept in the dark about their daughter's choices.
Should we express surprise? After all, the authorities ignored the rape and exploitation of thousands of girls for decades to avoid upsetting an ethnic minority community.
Meanwhile, kids are diagnosing themselves with "gender dysphoria". They read articles online and watch videos on YouTube to guide themselves. Then well-meaning teachers acting under misguided policies are going along with this. Parents are omitted because the child's privacy takes precedence. Some kids outgrow these beliefs before it goes too far with surgery and such. Others jump in and then regret the whole thing.
We know that transgender people have a terrible time. The suicide rate is high. Society needs to treat genuine cases with compassion. Yet, are the interests of transgender people served by policies that cause the broader public to despair? It's clear that the authorities in the UK don't have a balanced approach. We know that intelligent, educated people can make costly and sustained mistakes when driven by dogma. Is that what is happening?
I suppose it is harmless to introduce these issues to teenagers, with the caveat of a balanced and rational approach. Yet, the evidence suggests the whole process is indoctrination. You either accept the dogma or face exclusion as a hater. There is no middle ground.
The path through this morass is unclear. Life can be confusing for kids at the best of times. The teenage years are fraught with challenges, ambiguous emotions and attempts to assert an identity. Thus making life-defining decisions at that time is problematic at best. Yet the current thinking is to allow these kids to seek gender reassignment surgery. I'd favour holding off until they are 18 years old before going down that road.
There is compelling evidence to suggest that most of these kids, after puberty, come to feel secure and happy in the bodies they were born with.
Unfortunately, a self-serving clique of unyielding groups drive the agenda. Some of this is extreme tribalism supported by surgical procedures and hormone medication. Currently, transgender groups are vigorously resisting any attempts to study these issues.
Their position is that research is, by its nature, discrimination. We must resist this lunacy. After all, these are the same people who reject science. If biology conflicts with their distorted views, it's the work of the patriarchal. So I'm asking a simple question. If we don't investigate, are we in danger of failing children?
At the moment, we are only hearing one side of a nuanced and complex debate. At the same time, the number of children identifying as transgender is increasing year after year. Unfortunately, the politicians have abandoned this debate as too hot. Who can blame them? With rabid attack dogs waiting in the wings, best to keep your mouth shut. Likewise, the gay and feminist communities face infighting.
Even Jo Brand, a confident and outspoken lady, is afraid to comment for fear of vilification. Something is seriously wrong. Also, the zealots have sought to shut down Germaine Greer and others. They face 'no-platforming' at universities and elsewhere. That a noted feminist is verboten tells how far the loonies will go to control the debate and policy.
Professionals, including GPs, educational psychiatrists and social workers, won't speak out. Once they express a professional opinion, they're accused of bigotry and damaging the fight for trans rights.
Many of us raised concerns about the gender pronoun issue. We heard that our stance was an overreaction. Indeed, it's argued we shouldn't hurt feelings and accept an individual's choices. Except we now see linguistics having direct consequences on practices and procedures. Those consequences saw the English legal authorities put Karen White, a multiple rapist and paedophile, in a sealed building full of vulnerable women. That can't be right.
Once again, ideology runs smack-bang into objective reality.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.