A man has been named as one of the top 100 women in business by the UK’s Financial Times and HERoes Champions of Women in Business list. Pips Bunce, who comes in at number 32, is Director / head of global markets core engineering strategic programs for Credit Suisse.
No, Pips is not a trans woman, and has no desire to transition. Some days he comes to work as Philip, and other days as Pippa -- perhaps in a dress and wig, the Daily Mail reports. That is because their (seems like the correct pronoun) sexual identity is “gender fluid” or “non-binary”. Bunce has been married for more than 20 years and has two teenage children.
His company – where he worked his way up as a mere man – is very supportive and was chuffed that she got a HERoes award last week. It tweeted: “Congratulations to Pips Bunce on being listed on the Top 100 Female Executives list in the 2018.”
But not everyone is cheering Pips on. Some transgender women are definitely not amused.
India Willoughby, a trans woman who has fronted an all-female talk show (Loose Women) tweeted back at Suisse: “As a transsexual woman with a recognised medical condition, who fights for credibility every day, who fights myths every day, who’s undergone lengthy surgery, whose life was unbearable in the wrong body, I find this story an insult.”
“Transgender has become totally meaningless,” said Willoughby.
LGBT activist Kristina Harrison, who was born male but transitioned 20 years ago, also called Bunce’s appearance on the list “insulting”.
Certain feminists are also upset. Women's Place UK, which is already campaigning against trans women taking women’s spaces, finds itself fighting a new foe.
Co-founder Kiri Tunks told The Times: “This makes a mockery of women and their achievements and begs the question does Bunce simultaneously feature in top 100 male executives and if not, what were his particular achievements as a woman to merit inclusion in the female list?”
So here’s a pretty mess. We have three categories of people who all lay claim to being “women”, at least some of the time: biological women who are not trying to be men; biological males who have transitioned to female; and an individual who is biologically male but psychologically also, intermittently, female. And they disagree with one another about who is a woman!
If they can’t agree, what hope for the rest of us?
The feminists seem to have the most legitimate gripe. Fighting a long battle against the stereotyping of women and for equality in all fields, they see the transgender movement reinforcing female stereotypes (Pips Bunce in a little pink dress) and muddying the equality waters in sometimes dangerous ways.
Ann Farmer in the UK takes up the story:
A UK group called Fair Play for Women warned a few days ago that “women are in danger of being over-represented in violent crime statistics because the police are allowing offenders to choose whether they are recorded as male or female rather than by their biological sex.”
They referred to “a vicious assault on London’s transport network ... in which a man was beaten and suffered a broken eye socket.” In a statement, British Transport Police had described the alleged perpetrators as “a group of four women”; however, film footage showed four people “dressed as women” but “with the physical appearance and strength of males.”
Far from an isolated incident, Freedom of Information requests from Fair Play for Women revealed that 11 police forces allowed people taken into custody to decide the sex by which they were registered. Furthermore, there are “implications for how officers must deal with transgender individuals in custody,” because body searches on biological males who identify as transgender women “should be conducted by a female officer even though the majority of transgender individuals are physically male.”
Lesbian feminist Julie Bindell, observing that UK Fire Brigades are now accepting men who identify as women, commented in The Telegraph:
“When the world finally wakes up from this Orwellian madness, and the cowards who have so far been silent on the issue finally dare to speak out, it will become as clear as day that ... transgender ideology is nothing more than gross misogyny dressed up as progress.”
Meanwhile, can the female population become even more diverse? Watch this space.
Jesse Bier is a professor of English at the University of Montana in Missoula.