Analysis and comments on two Ruth Hunt Interviews – 1

Interview One

Anushka Asthana of the Guardian interviews the outgoing Chief Executive of Stonewall, Ruth Hunt.

In this podcast Ruth Hunt, outgoing Chief Executive of Stonewall is asked about the challenges Stonewall have faced by – and Asthana used the phrase  ‘some people who call themselves feminists’ seemingly declaring her own view and Hunt’s responses are telling. She claimed wrongly or mistakenly that these critics had framed the debate so as to make it impossible for Stonewall to take part. She accused her detractors of making  blanket statements like ‘trans women should not do sport’ and that ‘all trans women are men masquerading as women so that they can enter women’s prisons and abuse them’ which she then used to justify why Stonewall would not engage in any debate with its critics,  because, she said  they were not starting out on the premise that trans people have human rights. This is totally wrong and it is extraordinary that someone with Hunt’s intelligence would say these things.

I have never heard anyone make statements like the two examples that Hunt used. In fact as Hunt well knows it is feminists who have been the most supportive of trans people in the past. It is not women who trans people fear entering the wrong toilet or being picked on in the street. It is men. Pointing out the dangers to women’s safety by allowing biological males into their protected spaces is not the same as saying all trans women have ulterior motives.   Concern about the male bodied people taking part in women’s sports is not the same as saying ‘trans women shouldn’t do sport’. This is of course what happens when you refuse to discuss, you don’t hear what your critics are saying and you are free to imply what you want as there is no comeback.

Is it that this trans ideology is so flawed that it cannot merit scrutiny for fear of it being exposed. So the solution for those that promote it is to repeat it endlessly ‘trans women are women,’ and not engage with critics apart from calling them unpleasant names and getting them sacked. Historian Timothy Snyder calls this technique of misstatements and reiteration which Trump, among others, uses  ‘shamanistic incantion’, as they depend upon endless repetition designed to make the fictional plausible.

It is actually Stonewall and others who have framed the debate to be about trans rights and anyone with any objection is cast as opposing trans rights, which as we know in this rights obsessed time we live in, that makes you the baddy. The question is not should trans people have human rights but should those  declared human ‘rights’ remove some of the human rights from half the population? Is it indeed a human right to self -declare your identity as a woman when you have the body of a man.  Who said it was? There is as yet  no agreed consensus and it has not until now been widely discussed.

Hunt also said that the current situation regarding trans rights reminded her of how people treated gay and lesbians thirty years ago but the two groups are not the same. Gay and lesbian rights never impinged on any other groups’ rights. Some people may have objected morally but that is a different matter. Merging the two is disingenuous but highly emotive, and again casts any opposing view as anti progress.

Hunt began the discussion saying that society was going through an obsession with gender. Well I wonder why? It is not actually trans people who have caused this ‘obsession’, but the political ideology and demands being made in their name through organisations like Stonewall that have. They have pushed for several years to impose and instill an ideology in which sex is no longer a priori our category for distinguishing men and women. Most of us did not have any idea of the breadth and depth of the influence of this global movement. Nor are we yet fully comprehending of exactly what it is they are trying to achieve.

In response to the question on why  Stonewall took on trans rights, Hunt said that it made sense for Stonewall to use its huge resources to push for trans rights in 2015. Until then, she said it was only a small underfunded trans pressure group Press for Change that worked solely for trans rights. This was founded by Professor Stephen Whittle who was instrumental in influencing the passing of the GRA in 2004.  A reading of some of his work will enlighten you as to how the trans ideology has developed over the past twenty years, taking root in the academic discipline ( a word I am using lightly) of queer studies. The powerful network of government organisations and big corporates that saw Stonewall as the specialist in LGB were quite open and responsive to new policy suggestions and training on trans people about which they probably knew very little. Below in a second interview Hunt actually says it was these clients that have pushed her into taking on trans. I discuss that later.

When Asthana asked about the focus of Stonewall’s current debates being on trans Hunt replied that ‘we are just responding to what’s in the media”.  This is not so. The media like the rest of society was ignorant of the huge swathe of changes that were taking place behind the scenes that would impact the lives particularly of women and girls. The media is still for the most part too frightened to talk about what is happening.  Commentators who detract from the trans ideology are subject to vile abuse. On this Hunt merely says there is a lack of civility ‘on all sides’ which is a very Donald Trump type of comment. By refusing to acknowledge that there are very real conflicts of interests Hunt stands accused of betraying women and in particular the lesbian community that Stonewall represents.  She has not responded to the concern expressed in the huge rise in young girls being referred gender clinics, another social impact of the trans ideology. She did not acknowledge that this was a topic that was complex, impacted women and girls or that the definitions that society  were used to of transsexuals had been changed without any public debate and that the goal has been to redefine what being a woman means. Hunt was never really challenged at all in this interview by Asthana, reflecting perhaps the Guardian’s own reluctance to enter the debate in any meaningful way.