Over the past few weeks, several instances of transphobia have occurred. One high profile case is Germaine Greer’s decision to back out of speaking at Cardiff University, due to pressure from students after she voicing her opinion on transgender people. Greer’s opinions are nothing new, and are exactly the same ones she has voiced several times – but her most recent statement was that transgender women “Don’t look like, sound like, or behave like women”. Greer has also stated that, when being challenged on her opinions and whether or not she cares about the way her opinions on this matter have hurt people, that she ‘doesn’t care’.
A particular issue lies in the fact that there have been calls to prevent Germaine Greer from speaking at several university campuses, however. Laws are such that people are allowed to voice their opinions, and talk about them in public. Of course, the law does not cover hate speech, or defamation of character, and there is some debate as to whether Greer’s opinions count as both or either. When it comes to her extreme openness with a part of society which is frequently hidden, insulted, abused and harmed by society at large, the subject becomes even more of an issue. bathimpact would like to make it clear that we do not agree with Germaine Greer’s opinions. We do recognise that, due to none of our committee being trans women, that we can argue also that she should not necessarily be banned from speaking at universities from a very different point than a transgender woman who is personally offended. We do not presume to speak for transgender women, but we do aim to make sure their concerns are heard.
One case of a trans woman not being heard has struck with the current situation of Tara Hudson. Tara, who has lived as a woman her entire adult life and self-identifies as a woman, has been sentenced to a 12-week sentence at an all-men’s prison in Bristol due to her not obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). It should be made clear that GRCs cost money to obtain, and they are not easy to obtain. It is not debateable whether Tara is a woman, even if there are some legalities that may, on paper, be in contrast to this. Regardless, putting a young woman in a men’s prison will bring a lot of harm to her mental and possibly, physical health. A petition started from within the University of Bath Students’ Union to review Tara’s case has, at the time of writing, obtained 50,000 signatures, and has been featured on BBC news, The Independent, and other news outlets. The hashtag ‘#ISeeTara’ runs at the forefront of this, and a letter writing campaign has begun for people to petition directly to MPs about Tara’s case.
Tara’s case, unfortunately for her, is likely something that Germaine Greer would not ‘care’ about. It is not a stretch for people to feel concern and want to help a young woman who has been left in a vulnerable position by a legal system which is meant to look after her. The concern is not whether Tara should go to prison rather her safety in the one she currently being sent to.
It is important that people talk about Tara, and that people talk about Greer’s views, and also her ability to voice them. This is important because, as shown in Tara’s case, people are unclear what the meaning of ‘transgender’ is, and there are examples of people not knowing how to discuss Tara’s case. These need to be defined to people who are in the know so we can improve conditions for trans people. It is important that Greer voices her views so it is made clear that many people do not agree with her. bathimpact does not agree with her, and it is important that we are free to say this. We do not agree that Tara Hudson should go to a men’s prison when she is not a man. #ISeeTara.