noun. a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter; an opinion is stronger than impression but not as strong as positive knowledge

They, the people of Éire

Effie Deans is a Scottish blogger who writes tirelessly in favour of a United Kingdom, opposing Scottish separatist movements alongside her passion for Russophilia, novel-writing, and – more recently – her views on the “mistake” of being transgender, which Deans believes will soon “be looked on like phrenology”1This is not a joke. She actually said this.. Deans’ disregard for scientific advancement notwithstanding, Deans recently wrote about her understanding of Anglo-Irish relations, which – to paraphrase her blog post on the subject – Deans believes have led to an unnecessary and unfounded Irish animosity for the United Kingdom, one that fails to consider the Anglo-Irish shared history and the cordial diplomatic relationship enjoyed on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Not only are the Irish angry about Brexit, they are angry about everything Britain has supposedly done to them for the past thousand years … the substance of these people’s anger is usually Irish history and the blame for everything in that history falls on the British.Effie Deans

According to Deans, the population of Ireland are unique in their sustained hatred for British interests. On Twitter, after the publication of her article, Deans labelled Ireland as essentially unanimously “hostile to Britain and British interests”, quipping in her blog post that Ireland is aptly named, as – so far as she can see – “it is indeed the land of ire”. It should come as no surprise that her grasp of history, just like her grasp of gender biology, is most kindly described as loose and more honestly as deluded.

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1 This is not a joke. She actually said this.

There really is such a thing as society

In a 1987 interview in Women’s Own magazine, British Prime Minister and Conservative heavyweight Margaret Thatcher famously insisted that there was ‘no such thing’ as society, and that people should first and foremost help themselves and their neighbours, instead of relying on ‘society’ (the state) to help them instead. Problems that affected the population were not problems with ‘society’, you see, but instead deficiencies in the correct neighbourly attitude which should see your neighbour taking care of you as you would of them.

They are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour.Margaret Thatcher

Obviously, society does actually exist (sorry Maggie), and modern human life is defined by this existence of both society and the state, which governs what we can and cannot do as well as the support we receive and the leaders we turn to. More metaphorical (and perhaps sympathetic) interpretations of Thatcher’s statement, however, are mildly more convincing, and assert that Thatcher is not merely trying to offload responsibility and compassion onto the citizenry: rather, Thatcher is claiming that state payments (namely welfare benefits) don’t come from the society but instead from fellow citizens. A person’s food stamps are not being paid for by the government but instead by that person’s neighbours. Child or disability benefit does not come from society but from the recipient’s affluent friends or family. We should not see welfare as coming from the state and society but instead from members of that society. Welfare comes from taxation – from the pockets of your fellow citizens – not from society itself.

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It’s not “unscientific” to support transgender rights

For social conservatives, transgender sceptics and “gender-critical feminists”, claiming that science supports anti-trans rhetoric acts as a smokescreen. Put simply, it prevents such activists from having to admit their fondness for discrimination. Such a strategy is regrettably effective: in large part as a result of the tireless prejudice of anti-trans groups, open transphobia is prevalent in both right-wing and left-wing media (looking at you, The Guardian) and can be heard from all sides of the political spectrum. Organisations such as Britain’s “Women’s Place” have mobilised thousands of people willing to completely ignore modern understandings of sex and gender, preferring the XX/XY dichotomy for sexual characteristics and backing the absolute binary of high school textbooks. The modern advances of both the biological and social sciences indicate that such an approach is far too simplistic for such an extensive and complicated topic.

And yet, contrary to the insistence of the western world’s anti-trans figures, the existence of transgender people is neither new nor scientifically controversial. Various arguments in favour of transgender social acceptance are often derided as “unscientific”, with so-called “sex-based rights activists” insisting that gender is immutable (e.g. that “men cannot have periods”) and that the wider idea of transgender people being what they feel is contrary to scientific evidence. They’re lying: such basic, often transphobic categorisations of gender rely on either an accidental or malicious misrepresentation of scientific evidence as well as an outdated and obsolete binary definition of biological sex. In right-wing and left-wing media alike, their false assertion of scientific support is largely unchallenged, fostering anti-trans resentment and ludicrous fears of a shady “trans agenda”. The reality is simply that it is far less “scientific” to oppose trans rights than to support them.

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