I don’t know how it came to this, but my post defending Germaine Greer’s proposed lecture at Cardiff University has caused me to be described as transphobic.
Given the current circumstances of my life I am strangely unmoved by this accusation, however what does cause me some annoyance is that it seems to have become increasingly difficult to say, I do not agree with this person’s views on a subject but I do support his or her right to express them, and I welcome the ensuing debate.
As I understand it, Greer wasn’t intending to speak about transgender people. However, because she has spoken negatively on this topic there is a view that she is not, apparently, permitted to speak on any topic at all.
The list of topics on which Greer has spoken negatively and with abrasion is very very long. It is this characteristic and dare I name it, talent, that provoked a revolution amongst women decades ago, and were it not for Greer, among other equally provocative feminists, we wouldn’t be getting our own mortgages and living as fluidly as we are, even though we have still a very long way to go.
With thanks to Jo Tamar, I’m linking to this explanatory post on the complexities of changing gender. I was vastly irritated by the tone, but if you can get past that it’s worth a look.
And this post, Who’s afraid of Germaine Greer, is also worthy of a read.
Accusations of transphobia, like all name-calling, serve to distract from the essence of my argument, which is that banning speech rarely results in a positive outcome, whilst engaging in debate can be creative and productive. It ought to go without saying that I don’t include hate and inflammatory speech, but I know it won’t go without saying so I’m saying it.
Students at Cardiff University wanted the authorities to ban Greer’s lecture. The University refused to do this, to its credit. Students could have, and should have, taken responsibility for expressing their disagreement and displeasure with Greer in any number of ways: boycotting, back-turning, protesting, writing, and speaking, however, demanding that authorities do their oppositional work for them was both idle and cowardly. I don’t like this so ban it for me. Well, ok, but don’t complain when you find yourself in a fascist state.