What is his deal — really? What really gets on James Kelly’s goat is the stink of Fenian. The Orange sash is not merely an artefact of open anti-Catholic sectarianism, it is a paracite of the mind that penetrates deep into the Scottish psyche. This is no indictment, it is a consequence of colonialism — Britain has driven this deep into our culture. Catholics and Protestants are equally susceptible to it. This is the attitude towards Ireland and the struggle for Ireland’s freedom that is drip, drip, dripped into Scottish minds by the media and our education system.
Yesterday I received a message from an amazing women, 'A.,' who reached out to me, concerned that my recent battles on social media were maybe getting me down. She is perceptive. Yes, this past few weeks have taken their toll on me - and I can only imagine this comes as good news to those who made it their mission to make things tough for me. I have taken a position on the so-called gender debate many people really do not like. While I have my reservations about some of the content of gender theory, I am unwilling to stay quiet while perfectly innocent transgender people are subjected to the most appalling abuse from people who believe they are defending women's rights.
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.
Clearly this is a subject the internet has opinions about. Since 25 October 2020, when I first engaged in this discussion, I have lost somewhere in the region of two thousand Twitter followers, been on the receiving end of a handful of stressful dog-piles, and have experienced a shunning (where online followers are either too nervous or too angry to like or retweet anything posted by the shunned) — all indications of the internet’s displeasure. Lots of people in every corner of this furious argument have suffered similar, and sometimes worse, experiences.
For no other reason than for being a trans-woman, Millar sees Veronica Ivy as ‘creepy.’ This is a person she has never met, and no doubt Veronica Ivy has never heard of her (well, maybe she has now). She is creepy for being transgender, and so, by extension, it is reasonable to conclude that Millar and trans-exclusionary radical feminists like her see all transgender women as men who are sexually inappropriate, perverted, and who attempt to gain sexual gratification by using women’s toilets and getting their nails done in beauty parlours.
But there are other ways to communicate. As a Christian of the Catholic tradition, I have serious reservations about the more radical aspects of Gender Theory. I do not, for example, believe that sex and gender are fluid, and — if we must define the human person in narrow and reductionist biological terms (we are more than the sum of our bits) — I struggle with the claim that ‘trans women are real women.’ But trans women and men are real people.
Foucault, often viewed as the father of the Queer Theory which underpins the issues around gender we now grapple with, didn’t believe in anything as mundane as actual lemonade seas, he didn’t believe in any sort of objective reality at all. No, if you think the sea is made of lemonade — then, for you, the sea is lemonade. This atomised and idiosyncratic truth is actually all that matters, and anyone telling you that it’s nonsense is oppressing you by forcing their own version of reality on you.
Over the past forty-eight hours a great many people on social media reacted to my thoughts on this subject with a great deal of anger and frustration. Many of those who replied to me were perfectly sincere, believing that what I had done endangered the rights of ‘real women.’ Others were more extreme; many of whom branded me a misogynist, as a man who supported violence against women, as someone who would subject women and girls to ‘rapists,’ ‘predators,’ ‘perverts,’ ‘peeping Toms,’ ‘men in dresses,’ and ‘abusers’ in ladies’ toilets and other female-only spaces.