Foreign Policy, Bell v. Tavistock, and Grace Lavery

Grace Lavery on Grace Lavery: “Here’s the essay on British gender critical feminists’ capture of juridical and media institutions that I’ve been trying to place all year, finally published in Foreign Policy.” I’ve had a front-row seat to the waves of harassment Grace has received from TERFs over the last year, and it’s often been dispiriting to see how easy it is for someone with nothing more than a double-barreled last name and some anti-trans animus publish variations on “Trans People: Why Do They Mean To Eat Wimbledon?” in major newspapers. Often, between the relentless vitriol and the sneering “it’s just common sense that you’re perverse garbage” tone, I find myself wanting to ignore the existence of transphobes entirely. They are exhausting on purpose! And yet is possible to counter them with elegance and clarity of thought. I am grateful Grace has done so here:

Earlier this month, the British High Court judged that no children under the age of 16 can meet the standard for informed consent—a long-established norm known as “Gillick competency”—that would allow them to take puberty blockers, drugs that delay hormone-induced development. In effect, the British courts intervened in the transition-related care of any children in the United Kingdom experiencing gender dysphoria, putting those children and their families in the position of having to seek care abroad….The decision is an unprecedented juridical attack on the LGBT community in the U.K., in which the British state has asserted a right to enforce unwanted puberty—and to arrest transitions that are already in progress—on the slimmest of pretexts.

The muddled thinking and moral panic of the Bell v. Tavistock decision requires cultural analysis, not just legal dissection: How was such a wrong and dangerous decision met with almost universal acclaim in the British media? The root cause is the escalating and intensifying campaign against trans people being waged online…

In the couple of weeks leading up to the Bell v. Tavistock decision, I was embroiled in a strange “free speech” controversy, after the anti-trans activist Abigail Shrier claimed in the Wall Street Journathat I was trying to silence her. Her article (to which I was not given a chance to respond) ignited a cascade of follow-up panic-pieces in the Daily Wire, the Federalist, the Daily CallerFox News, and the rest of the right-wing press. That, in turn, instigated a torrent of rape and death threats sent to my work email address, and a campaign of letters to my chair and dean trying to get me fired. Meanwhile, Shrier got a laudatory review in the Economist and then was asked to cover the Bell decision by Newsweek, her third anti-trans article for the magazine this year. Being “silenced” gives you plenty of chances to talk loudly.

“Lesbians, not cops” makes for an excellent manifesto, I think — “a foreign policy we can all get behind.”