You Should Speak Freely Germaine: Can I Also Live Freely?

I have thought much about her comments. They are nothing that I have not thought myself over many years of trying to come to terms with who the hell I was, and why those "ridiculous feelings" would not go away.

As I write, Germaine Greer's lecture at Cardiff University is going ahead. I hope it does.

Although the comments have caused me much distress personally, I do not believe she should be banned from airing her views. I am a huge advocate of free speech. It is far better to win through reasoned argument and medical fact, rather fuel to ignorance by giving up the moral high ground. Indeed, the whole concept of "no platforming" is distasteful to me, both in terms of its grammatical inaccuracy and denial of a right to speak.

I have thought much about her comments. They are nothing that I have not thought myself over many years of trying to come to terms with who the hell I was, and why those "ridiculous feelings" would not go away.

Indeed, I generally felt I was, in some way, mentally ill, even though, to the outside world, I was living a perfectly normal family and work life. That is how it was for so many years.

Even after I finally admitted to myself, and close family, that I was transgendered, and sought treatment, I desperately tried to put it all behind me and carry on as "normal", one more time, such was the magnitude of the decision I was faced with. That lasted another eight years, my marriage did not.

When that was inevitably doomed to failure, I had to admit that changing the gender the rest of the world had seen me as, was my only course of action.

Of course, I did not simply get the opportunity Ms Greer so colourfully suggests, to "...chop my d***" off...", (although I have been tempted to do so on many dark occasions). Instead, I embarked upon a long process of counselling, medical, psychiatric and psychological assessment, which ultimately required me to "prove" the conclusion that I was not mentally ill, by changing my name, living as female for two years, before there was remotely the opportunity to do as she suggests. I did make one concession though- I felt it far more sensible and safe to ask a surgeon to do it.

The period of transition is shall we say, Ms Greer, interesting. In my case, it meant the loss of my work, constant rejection in the job and consultancy market, having to start again at the bottom of the work ladder. In the meantime, I spent my savings, lost meaningful contact with the three most important people in my life, my sons, and was ostracised by many friends and ex- business colleagues.

I am lucky though. I have, thus far, survived, with the help of my wonderful partner.

Ms Greer seems to enjoy focusing on the celebrity cases, such as Caitlyn Jenner. I know nothing about Ms Jenner, or her personal feelings. Why should I? She is her own person, with her own truth.

I know mine, that's all.

I do not feel I will change her mind. It is unfortunate in the extreme, that it is so firmly closed, especially as she is someone who has argued long and hard for the cause of the rights of women. Even if she does not see me as one her own, I respect her determination and resolve to have done so.

All I can say is that she does not know me. I will recover from the hurt her comments cause. My concern is that others may not. Furthermore, her comments may well encourage others who seek to inflict physical and psychological damage on people who are transgendered.

People like Ms Greer, who hold way more ability to sway public opinion than I, should be mindful of this, and be prepared to answer to their own consciences if their comments result in hatred and hurt.

Times change, medical knowledge has indeed done so. In the case of understanding gender dysphoria, it has developed considerably in the time since Ms Greer first hit the headlines. She should use her considerable intellect and acumen to research this; it may help, it may not. That, sadly though, would not be a headline, neither are the many fully transitioned trans people, both female and male, who simply want to live their lives in peace.


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