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By Jason Michael
YESTERDAY I REACHED OUT to Rosa Zambonini, an SNP activist and former councillor, to ask her if she would share an article I had published stating my positionality on the so-called gender debate. Rosa and I have kept communications open with one another since the 2014 independence referendum despite the fact we have not always seen eye-to-eye on politics or indeed on the best route to independence. The recent activity of the Women Wont’s Wheesht movement and the trans exclusionary feminism rallying around Marion Millar have caused both of us some concern.
Neither of us buy into this form of feminism — a feminism roundly rejected by mainstream feminists and the political left, but neither do I wholly accept the more radical tenets of gender theory. Where Rosa and I do have common ground is in our shared intolerance of intolerance, be that misogyny or transphobia. So, In good faith, I reached out to her.
She was so kind to share the piece and I was most grateful. In light of everything that has been happening over the past week — a nuclear explosion of a dog-pile after I published a series of articles critiquing the gender critical movement — she dropped me a wonderful and much appreciated note:
I see you getting so much flack and I’m so sorry for that. I understand the place where you found yourself but I hope you saw that, at all times, you had a friend … and you do.
That was wonderful, and I promised that the next time I was over in her neck of the woods I would treat her to a coffee. But then something strange happened. Later in the day I discovered Rosa had blocked me on Twitter. It was then brought to my attention she had commented on why she had decided to block me and hang me out to dry:
Rosa, it appears, only decided to share the article on the proviso it was indeed an apology — an apologia (my words). She also makes the claim that I have personally ‘hurt’ her. A man hurting a woman, certainly in this climate, is a serious accusation, but I am unaware of ever having hurt her. We have never met in person — but she does state that this hurt happened ‘on Twitter’ — and so I simply cannot think what this hurt could have been. We have disagreed on politics, but to the very best of my knowledge we have never engaged in a personal exchange. This said, if I have hurt her or caused her offence, then I have this to say to her:
Rosa, it has never been my intention to hurt you, insult you, or cause you any kind of harm. If I have, through ignorance or spite, caused you any kind of hurt, then I am deeply sorry for this and sincerely apologise and beg your forgiveness.
But back to my apologia. Rosa has assumed that my article was an apology for my transphobia. If I have ever uttered anything transphobic, homophobic, racist, or bigoted and hateful in any way, then yes, I am sorry. However, this article was not an apology for my transphobia for the simple reason that I have always positioned myself against transphobia and other kinds of prejudice. My apologia was something else entirely. Here is what I actually wrote:
Sure, I can see the confusion. It does contain the word ‘apologia.’ But this was part of the phrase ‘apologia pro vita sua.’ Sometimes — always — I forget that other people might not be tip top with their Latin expressions. So, here is what it means:
The apologia pro vita sua is an apologetic — a formal defence or justification of a theory or doctrine. The article I was sharing with Rosa was a defence of my position. I was explaining why I have taken the position I have on this debate, and that is that I do not accept the biological essentialism of the gender critical people and nor do I uncritically endorse everything about gender theory. What I am against is hatred and bigotry. I stand by this apologia.