As I’ve just discovered this thread and realise that, thanks to Google, it’s probably going to serve as my RPS epitaph, I hope no-one will object if I make one rather late contribution to it.
Framing that contribution as a Q&A will help me marshal my thoughts so…
- Why did you wade into the highly charged trans rights debate on November 7?
The main reason - I read a question from a concerned commenter that I felt warranted an honest answer. A secondary reason - I had been growing increasingly uncomfortable with the, to my mind, unbalanced way RPS covered stories with a trans angle.
- Shouldn’t you have criticised the site’s editorial policy privately, via an email to your editor, before doing it publicly?
Yes, definitely. I very much doubt my concerns would have been heard sympathetically or resulted in any change in the way the site operated, but all the same I should have tried that approach first. That would have been the professional and polite thing to do. I apologised to Graham for this error of judgement on November 9.
- Are you ‘gender critical’?
In the sense that I’m concerned about issues like the impact of carelessly drafted legislation on women’s rights, the de-platforming and cancelling of dissenting voices, the pigeonholing and medicalisation of children, yes, I would consider myself gender critical.
- Do you hate or fear trans people?
No. I believe all members of society should be able to live rich, fulfilling truthful lives free from prejudice and discrimination.
- Do you think being trans is a ‘life choice’?
No, and I’m horrified to see individuals in this thread attempting to blacken my name by suggesting that I do. Obviously no one chooses to have gender dysphoria. Where there is an element of choice is in how people opt to deal with that dysphoria.
- Why did you refuse to issue the public apology that would have saved your livelihood and The Flare Path?
I was (and am) prepared to apologise for the outrage and hurt my words caused in some quarters. What I was not prepared to do was put my name to an apology that implied that the opinions of people like Helen Lewis, Suzanne Moore, Susanna Rustin and JK Rowling were ignorant and worthless.
- Do you feel you were fairly treated by RPS in the circumstances?
While I appreciate that my comments put RPS in a difficult position, I’m convinced a solution could have been found that didn’t involve me losing my job or lying about my beliefs, or RPS sacrificing its carefully cultivated reputation for inclusivity. The negotiations that followed my intervention were, I feel, chaotic, informal, and rushed. At times I felt like a man trying to argue his innocence from the back of moving, guillotine-bound tumbril.
- Will you be participating in trans rights discussions regularly in future or adding anything further to this thread?
Probably not. There are many people who communicate gender critical arguments far more eloquently and delicately than I could ever hope too. I intend to spend 2021 in much the same way I spent most of 2020 - writing about wargames and simulations, and - with Roman’s help - fabricating foxers.
- Are you sad that your thirteen-year association with RPS ended the way it did?
Of course. I’ve been extremely happy writing for RPS and during my time with the site have been lucky enough to work alongside some hugely talented writers. Kieron, John, Jim, Alec, Rab Florence, Original Alice, Quinns, Nate, Sin… the list goes on and on.
And few columnists can ever have written for a more appreciative, entertaining, and enthusiastic band of regular readers! A big thank you to everyone who has helped make FP and Foxer comments sections so interesting and affirming over the years.