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London Review of Books claims men who identify as women have higher sexual assault rate than women

Gender-critical feminists, who promote primacy of biological sex, demand evidence for essayist's claim.

September 5, 2022 9:17pm

Updated: September 6, 2022 10:52am

The London Review of Books waded into a cultural minefield by publishing an essay that claims men who identify as women have a higher sexual assault rate than biological women, without providing substantiating evidence.

The essay by Arianne Shahvisi, who is writing a book on the philosophy of social justice, claims that gender is a more definitive reality than sex. She tars gender-critical feminists, who promote the primacy of biological sex, as embracing a "sort of fairy-tale fear-mongering that puts them in league with the far right."

Without citing a source, Shahvisi claims: "Trans women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than cis women, and vulnerability to violence is, for most women, a more concrete definition of what unites and constrains us." 

Gender-critical feminists including author Rose George, whose book on blood is promoted by Bill Gates, demanded evidence for the claim from the British literary magazine and Shahvisi. British journalist Joel Snape said the fact that the claim got through makes him wonder "what other things have they not fact-checked?"

Former University of Sussex philosopher Kathleen Stock, one of the founding faculty of the University of Austin, said the "epistemic bubble" of transgender ideology was getting "popped by the scrutiny of the those outside their circle."

"'Fairy-tale fear-mongering' is such an offensive phrase, not least because it insinuates female fear of male sexual violence is, deep down, a fantasy female people quite enjoy - 'they love it really,'" feminist writer Victoria Smith wrote. "Irresponsible and outlandish," wrote Julie Bindel, whose "Journalist of the Year" nomination from the British LGBTQ rights group Stonewall was the subject of trans picketing.

Other Twitter users defended Shahvisi and the publication or disputed what can be gleaned from such small numbers of reported or estimated sexual assaults of transgender women.

Neither Shahvisi nor the London Review of Books has responded to the criticism as of Monday evening.