Trans Ethics: The Fight Over Facilities
For those people not familiar with my work, I am an anti-prejudice, anti-discrimination campaigner. At the same time, however, I am opposed to political-correctness — the idea that we should decide our ethics, not according to clear principles, but according to what other people (often irrationally) deem to be acceptable or unacceptable.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of debate about trans-related issues. And one of the biggest, fiercest debates at the moment concerns how trans women, in particular, should be treated, when they wish to have access to facilities designated for ‘women.’
On the one side, we have people who believe trans women should have every right to use women’s facilities. And on the other side, we have some ‘feminists’ — some of whom get very agitated and angry about this issue — who wish to exclude them and reserve women’s spaces entirely for females.
There’s a lot of emotion surrounding this debate. But what if we made a real effort to focus on following clear, ethical principles? What conclusions might we then reach?
So let’s try to sort this out from basic principles:
1. The term, ‘trans woman,’ usually refers to someone who was born as a (biological) male, but who wishes to live their life ‘as a woman.’
The reasons for this may be many and varied, but in terms of ethics, we don’t have to concern ourselves with what those reasons are. It doesn’t really matter what other people think of someone’s reasons for wanting to live their life as a woman. Some people will think they are perfectly reasonable. Others will think they are ridiculous. But so what?
The important principle here is that we support people’s freedom to live their lives as they wish.
And if someone wishes to wear dresses and make-up or behave in other ‘womanly’ ways, that should be up to them. You are free to think what you will about them. But it isn’t your business or my business to dictate to someone how they should live their lives, so long as they are not harming others.
So far, so simple.