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All about gender and its political ramifications

March 16th, 2020 11:40 AM

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It seems that jokes about sexual identity are no longer appropriate in our new-style society

THIS week, dear reader, we’re going to talk about gender and its political ramifications. A delicate and dainty topic and one which demands sensitivity, tact and subtlety – all of which, we hasten to add, we have in spades. But, first, let us break the ice with an auld joke.

Here it is:  A woman had doubts about the marital fidelity of her partner and, in a twist of artful cunning, she decided to make him feel jealous. ‘Darling,’ she sweetly asked one morning at breakfast, ‘what would you say if I was having sex with your best friend?’

‘I’d say you’re a lesbian!’ he answered.

Did our readers laugh or are we detecting a frosty response?  Perhaps jokes about sexual identity are no longer appropriate in our new-style society where ‘wimmin’ have become the dominant gender in matters social, political and economical?  Which is another way of saying that it might not be a good idea to trivialise stuff relating to sexual identity, even for humoristic purposes!   

But, what the heck…another identity, another day, can’t cause too much offence – such as the fact that growing a beard is the one thing a woman cannot do better than a man!

So, with great seriousness we acknowledge that an article in the ‘Law Society Gazette,’ relating to transgender (male) convicts being housed alongside women inmates, was in no way amusing.

Wrong jail

According to the legal eagles, the authorities unwittingly placed women inmates in an undesirable situation by having a ‘male-bodied prisoner,’ who claimed to be a woman, in close proximity.

The male-to-female-transgender prisoner had a very serious record of sexual assault against women, but it was the first time in Irish penal history that a prisoner, registered as male at birth, was locked up in a women’s place of detention on the basis that he was in possession of a gender recognition certificate that defined him as a woman.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan explained that the Prison Service had to accept all prisoners into custody and into whatever prison that a judge ordered. Flanagan, however, did not mention that it was his gang – Fine Gael – which voted into law the 2015 Gender Recognition Act, a piece of botched legislation that failed to recognise the implications of having transgender prisoners in a single sex (female) place of confinement.

Prior to the 2015 Gender Recognition Act, the request of any person who legally wished to change gender had to be approved by endocrinologists and psychiatrists, a requirement that was dropped in the wake of protests from strident transgender campaigners.

As a result, it seems legal experts did not envisage the ease with which transgender people would be able to ‘self-declare’ (legally change gender by means of a sworn statement), nor did they foresee the problems of having a self-declared, transgender person with a sexual assault record in a female prison. Pardon us if we snigger, but it’s pure Monty Python!

Keeping quiet!

In other words, under the Fine Gael legislation, the mere act of somebody ‘self-declaring’ was sufficient in order to be recognised as having changed gender, even though the person involved did not undergo any hormonal therapy or surgery to achieve a sexual transformation.

The consequence, according to GRIPT (November 23rd, 2019), an on-the-ball news-opinion website, is that the Prison Service and courts now find themselves in a difficult position: if somebody is self-declaring ‘their claim has legal recognition under the law.’

Curiously, Minister Flanagan, Vlad, and their vast cohort of feminist supporters have yet to utter a word concerning the debacle of ‘self-declaring.’

GRIPT said: ‘Clearly the new obsession with trans-rights took priority over women-prisoners’ safety even though female inmates, housed alongside male-bodied prisoners, were potentially at risk.’  The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission had no comment to make, while the response from the nation’s vocal feminist cohort also was non-existent.

Obviously the implications of the legislation were never put under legal scrutiny, prompting the question if this was because the imprisoned women were ‘disproportionately poor and disenfranchised’?  In other words, they didn’t have a voice – least of all, a trendy, liberal voice.

Slight movement

And now for something different: a real laugh! The Sunday Times announced a ‘stop press’ scoop last week, having discovered an inexplicable movement in the Fianna Fáil undergrowth. The ever-so-slight motion was occasioned by something with a mysterious antennae – and no, it wasn’t that of a cockroach!

Just a common garden antenna which, as we all know, enables certain creatures to navigate obstacles through the use of touch, motion, heat, vibration, smell and taste. A political antenna, however, is different.That’s an instrument which picks up the significance or otherwise of current  attitudes and issues.

Political antennae are used to help chart the lie of the land, including Mickey Martin’s crumbling leadership and the inevitable challenge from potential rivals, such as Dublin TD, Jim O’Callaghan.

Brother of RTÉ current affairs star, Miriam O’Callaghan, Mr Jim is putting Our Mickey under pressure with regard to mounting a leadership challenge. The problem for the Cork FF leader is that he had a malarkey general election and the party grassroots have had their fill of him.

Political paralysis

‘Mickey must go’ is the message (sotto voce, for the moment). He’s done his bit and now should move over to allow a real pro, such as Mr Jim O’Callaghan (cue trumpets and choir of angels), to run the show.

Rankling with the plebs is Mickey’s attitude to government formation talks and his refusal to speak to Sinn Féin. The point being made is that Mickey’s attacks on Sinn Féin cost the F&Fers votes and, because of his refusal to change his views, the party will continue to haemorrhage support.

Mickey’s critics include ministerial-quality TDs such as Robert Troy and John Lahart.

Others are Jackie Cahill, Seán Fleming, John McGuinness, Eamon Ó Cuív, and Joe Flaherty, who says quite bluntly that Sinn Féin’s mandate should be respected.

Jackie Cahill, for instance, wants a root and branch review of the entire FF party, so dreadful have things become. Joe Flaherty is demanding that Mickey’s constant criticism of Sinn Féin must stop.

Seán Fleming believes that Martin’s onslaught on SF should cease, as Fianna Fáil is doing damage to itself. The critics are trying to hammer home to Mickey a simple message: they are not calling on Fianna Fáil to enter power with SF but to open talks with them.

As matters stand, Fianna Fáil is suffering a kind of paralysis and could well be facing a second election in which it could lose more seats! In other words, crunch time has arrived for Our Mickey!

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