Dame Jenni Murray, the presenter of BBC Radio Four's Women's Hour, faced a backlash on Sunday after comments she made about trans women in an article for the Sunday Times Magazine. In the article, Murray said someone who had lived with the social privileges of a man could not call themselves a "real woman".
Murray said in her article that she was not a trans-exclusionary radical feminist – a Terf – and that she believed trans people should be treated with the same respect as anyone else, criticising feminists Germaine Greer and Julie Burchill for "revulsion" expressed towards trans women. However, she also expressed concern over the "hijacking of language and single-sex spaces that are so precious to women".
On the cause of her concerns on the issue, Murray wrote: "My concern… is for the impact this question of what constitutes "a real woman" will have on sexual politics. And for who has the right to be included in gatherings or organisations that are defined as single sex."
Murray went on to outline a number of examples of trans women she had encountered who had not, in her view, understood the struggle of women in society and as such could not truly identify with the female experience.
One example of which was an interview with India Willoughby – the first trans woman to present the ITV programme Loose Women, and the UK's first trans newsreader – whose views on womenhood were, said Murray, based on "a man's idea of what a woman should be".
She wrote: "She described hairy legs on a woman as "dirty". But hairy legs are not considered dirty in a man. Did she not know that… to describe a woman who chose not to shave as dirty was insulting and again suggested an ignorance of sexual politics?"
Willoughby's response via Twitter on Sunday was criticised by feminist Julie Bindel as "misogyny" after she offered Murray a makeover. She tweeted: "Delighted you're still narked. If ever want a make-over (attitude & clothes) give me a shout."
Murray's article continued to question the notion that one could be "born into the wrong body". Instead, Murray asserts that the increasing number of people to undergo gender-reassignment could be attributed to "sexual arousal" at the prospect of becoming a woman or because they "simply feel more comfortable as a woman".
The debate comes a day after a controversial appearance by Germaine Greer at an International Women's Day event at the Brighton Dome, which campaigners tried to block after comments made by Greer regarding trans women.
In 2015, Greer said in a TV interview: "Just because you lop off your dick and then wear a dress doesn't make you a f*****g woman. I've asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I'm going to wear a brown coat but that won't turn me into a f*****g Cocker Spaniel.
She continued: "A man who gets his dick chopped off is actually inflicting an extraordinary act of violence on himself."
As a result of her comments, calls were made to "no-platform" the academic, as had been the case for both Bindel and Burchill thanks to similarly controversial comments.
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