BBC Woman’s Hour host Dame Jenni Murray says trans women aren’t ‘real women’
Host of the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, Dame Jenni Murray, is the latest to suggest that trans women are not “real women”.
The 66-year-old broadcaster and feminist wrote in the Sunday Times Magazine to make the comments suggesting that trans women can never be “real women” because they could experience male privilege before they transition.
Dame Jenni’s column in the magazine was titled ‘Be trans, be proud — but don’t call yourself a “real woman”’.
She begins by saying she is “not transphobic”, denying that she is a “trans exclusionary tradical feminist” or “TERF”.
“Let me make something absolutely clear at the outset. I am not transphobic or anti-trans. Not a Terf in other words. That’s trans-exclusionary radical feminist, to use one of the often-confusing expressions that have entered the language in this age of gender revolution.”
She continues: “I’ve no difficulty with men doing whatever they choose to express their feminine side,” adding that she admires Grayson Perry and Eddie Izzard for their gender expression.
Continuing, she criticises statements made by Julie Burchill and Germaine Greer as “cruelly and distastefully” put, saying they “demean” themselves and their “feminist politics”.
Dame Jenni goes on to define “cisgender women” as “natural-born women”, to explain to her readers what is meant by “cis”, and says she is concerned “for the impact this question of what constitutes ‘a real woman’ will have on sexual politics. And for who has the right to be included in gatherings or organisations that are defined as single sex.”
Criticising the transition of reverend Carol Stone, who transitioned in 2000 and continued working as a Church of England priest, Dame Jenni says she felt “anger” that “a man claimed to have become a woman”.
After misgendering the late reverend, she then criticises her for being concerned at what dress to wear and whether to wear makeup or not.
She goes on to criticise comments made by trans broadcaster India Willoughby, who after becoming the first trans woman to co-host Loose Women, appeared on Woman’s Hour in December.
Dame Jenni writes that she experienced “fury”, after meeting Willoughby, that “a male-to-female transsexual could be so ignorant of the politics that have preoccupied women for centuries”.
“India held firmly to her belief that she was a ‘real woman’, ignoring the fact that she had spent all her life before her transition enjoying the privileged position in our society generally accorded to a man,” she goes on.
She goes on to criticise the host for saying hairy legs are “dirty” on a woman, suggesting that she is “playing into the stereotype — a man’s idea of what a woman should be.”
She adds: “Your sex, male or female, is what you’re born with and determines whether you’ll provide the sperm or the eggs in the reproductive process. ”
Speaking to trans woman Jenny Roberts, Dame Jenni says that she is part of a group of trans people who “willingly accept they cannot describe themselves as women”.
The broadcaster later points to a case of a man who transitioned to be female, then reversed his transition, before quoting actor Rupert Everett who warned parents not to let their kids transition.
Of his own childhood, Everett said: “Thank God the world of now wasn’t then because I’d be on hormones and I’d be a woman.”
She then quotes another trans woman’s opinion on a number of reasons trans women want to transition, saying “that some boys who are gay want to adopt the female gender because they’re considered effeminate and bullied for it. Others may simply refuse to become the kind of men they know, or want to emulate the mothers they love. Others, generally those who come to transition later in life, having lived as heterosexual men, are sexually aroused by the idea of becoming a woman or say they simply feel more comfortable living life as a woman.”
Dame Jenni later criticises a British Medical Association pamphlet advising staff and representatives to use the term “pregnant people”, rather than “mothers”, to be inclusive of trans and intersex people.
Last month, tens of thousands of people had called for an appearance by Germaine Greer on International Women’s Day in Brighton to be called off.
In the past Greer has spoken out against “man’s delusion that he is female”, claiming trans women are “some kind of ghastly parody” that will never be women because they do not know what it’s like to have a “big, hairy, smelly vagina”.
The author has since caused more outrage, referring to Caitlyn Jenner as a “he/she” who “wanted the limelight that the female members of the family were enjoying”.
Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire Show, a “pretty cross” Greer issued a sweary rant about trans people.
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Greer’s statement, which Derbyshire bravely recounted to trans actress Rebecca Root, says: “Just because you lop off your d**k and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a f***ing woman.
Challenged on her views, she later said “I don’t believe them. Sorry, you can hold a knife to my throat. I don’t believe you.”
On another occasion, she also said she could “call herself a Cocker Spaniel” but wouldn’t be accepted as one.
Greer’s comments are surprising given she supports equality for lesbians – insisting “the problem with gay marriage is not the gay bit but the marriage bit.” She has previously opposed male same-sex parenting on the grounds of “motherhood”.