English | History | Geography | PSHE

‘Why I stopped being a good girl’

Are gender rights clashing with women’s rights? Forty years on, the smiling schoolgirl in the photo has become an award-winning Guardian writer and a controversial champion of women. Growing up, Hadley Freeman was a good girl. She avoided conflict. She got on with her parents. She received excellent grades at school. She got into university and became a successful journalist and feminist writer.  But now, after years of agreeing with the crowd, she has begun speaking out. The subject? Gender rights.  Today is International Women's Day. It is a day for celebrating women and their achievements. It is also a day for calling attention to the challenges they still face.  Yet in some Western nations, there is growing tension between some feminists and the transgender rights movement.  For some feminists, transgender rights are moving very fast. They worry this threatens the rights of cisgender women. Freeman is one of these feminists. She fears that new rules like gender self-identification could put women at risk.  Freeman adds that people like her find it hard to speak out about their opinions. But she feels so strongly about it that she is not afraid to stop going along with the crowd.  Many people disagree with her. They say her idea of feminism is dangerous. For her critics, transgender women must be part of any women's movement.  They point out that transgender people face terrible violence. According to Stonewall, 19% of trans people have experienced domestic abuse.  On International Women's Day, they argue, we should be standing up for transgender women facing everyday danger.  And they criticise Freeman for claiming to have been silenced while she still has access to some of the biggest platforms in the world. In contrast, they say, few of the UK’s major newspapers employ transgender journalists. Are gender rights clashing with women's rights? Uncivil war Yes: Transgender people need to use the facilities corresponding to one or the other sex. Either we risk letting predatory men take advantage of new rules or we put trans people in danger. There is an obvious clash. No: Cisgender women and transgender women face the same struggles: violence, marginalisation, lack of educational opportunities. They should work together to end their mutual oppression. Or... The conflict between gender critical feminists and trans activists focuses on a few small areas. We can easily arrive at compromises in these areas while working together on everything else.     KeywordsCisgender - A person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. The term was first used in academic articles in the 1990s.

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