WE live in a gender-fluid society of which I’m proud and for which I’m grateful.

Progress in the understanding and tolerance of the trans, bi and queer community may have felt painfully slow for those in dire need of inclusion and empathy over the past decades.

Those for whom the most natural thing has been simply to exist as who they are but have been met with discrimination and judgment will have suffered intensely.

Some will not have lived to see the dawning of this greater awareness, compassion and perception but will have gone to their graves poisoned by the injustice and hatred of others. My heart breaks for them.

Many still live stifled, repressed lives with no rights and no recognition. It is a life that is hard to imagine when the only open-ended discrimination I have felt is against being a woman.

But news that a hospital trust in the south of England is instructing midwives to refer to mothers as “birthing parents” and the act of breastfeeding as “chest-feeding” I find alarming on many levels.

As I write this, I feel trepidation and fear course through my fingers as they tap hesitantly on my keyboard. That, for some reason my objection and difficulty with the change in terminology will be interpreted as anti-trans.


I’m no dinosaur. I like to think I carry understanding in my back pocket, empathy in both hands and tolerance in my heart.

Besides, I live in a household with others — one of whom is a 16-year-old daughter who has established herself as a social justice warrior.

She has taken it upon herself to explain all the new terms to me — the ones I don’t understand, the ones I have never heard and the ones that used to have a very different meaning.

So I’m pretty well versed. I’m super proud of her knowledge and sassiness but there is no doubt that there is an element of cancel culture about the way she approaches arguments.

As I take a breath, she cuts me off. This, in turn, makes me shut down because there is a part of our society which somehow engenders reluctance, hesitation and mistrust about voicing my opposition.

I’m fearful of saying the wrong thing, when I know in my head the direction of my intent — it is not to hurt or damage or exclude.

But at what point am I allowed to stand up and say my breasts are called breasts because that is what they biologically and organically are?

They are not the chest of a man or an antique piece of furniture with drawers — they are body parts that many times have produced milk for my babies.

Why can I not enjoy being called a mother? I don’t want to be a “birthing parent”. Why does traditional terminology always have to incite negative connotations?

I’m wondering at what point the thought police will arrest me for still calling my undercarriage a “nunnie”. Will “bush” even be allowed?


I guess “honeymoon passage” will be illegal because that has its origins with traditional heterosexual couples.

I think of 76-year-old Margaret Nelson, who dared to suggest that we “die the same sex as you are born” and was immediately reported to the police, who came a-calling. It’s absurd and dangerous.

It’s the persistent and constant “blanding” and tempering of everything — the neutralisation of words, phrases and expressions in case they cause offence which is so damaging.

A recent poll by the Reclaim Party, of which I am neither proponent nor opponent, suggested 42 per cent of those questioned did not want to talk openly about transgender rights for fear of a backlash. And that tells us something.

It’s telling us that regardless of the progress that has been made, the pendulum is in danger of swinging so far the other way that it will start to alienate another group of people — it is breeding reluctance and unwillingness, not to mention creating sharper divisions than ever there were.

Look, I swear. I curse and blaspheme. Swearing is part of my DNA.

Some say it shows a lack of vocabulary and are highly offended.

I say it’s the intonation and emphasis of my sentences you need to listen to, not scrutinising the words themselves.

The trajectory we’re on is a precarious and dangerous one, one that will rupture and lead to greater conflict and discord. Change, for change’s sake is not progress.

Surely, that’s not what the transgender community wants either? To paraphrase Pink Floyd, leave them words alone.


KALASHNIKOV, the Russian weapons manufacturer, has unveiled a semi-automatic, 12-gauge shotgun with a built-in computer because, if you’ll pardon the pun, the company’s aim is to attract Generation Z – that younger audience which was born with gadgets and can’t imagine a life without them.

It’s being dubbed the “gadget weapon”. Somewhat of an oxymoron. Because what we really want in a gun owner is youth, inexperience and a disciple who thinks shooting is a game.

Being silly, Millie

I SOMETIMES have to try very hard to remind myself that mental health issues know no boundaries, whether of race, age, sex and even financial status.

But often it is difficult to hear the moans and bleats of influencers who you feel should signal greater empathy and humility.

Millie Mackintosh seems charming enough. You know, her off Made In Chelsea, old money, new baby, posh husband.

Last week she declared that she felt under terrible pressure. She is struggling to juggle motherhood and social media, poor lamb.

Not motherhood, but motherhood and social media. Social media which, for the record, involves staring at a screen, setting up the odd photo and pressing a couple of buttons. She bemoans the fact she finds it hard to: “Differentiate life and work sometimes.”

I am trying to mean no harm but find it frustrating as hell, because most people’s truth is that life as a new mum is loneliness and babysick, no outside space and no childcare help.

And work is doing a night shift, worrying about leaving your kids behind, juggling more than one job and still not being able to make ends meet.

It’s not sitting on a comfy sofa in a stunning house with a supportive husband worrying which brand you’re endorsing tomorrow.


LAST week I watched the docu­mentary about Katie Price’s son Harvey. What an amazing young man he is. He is just wicked.

Then to know his biological father is living it up in Dubai during lockdown made me feel the same as I did when I was abandoned by the biological father of my heart-damaged daughter, Bo – sick to the stomach.

And it reminded me how Dwight Yorke tried to access me via social media to take me to dinner. Methinks not only is he asking the wrong wronged woman but he’s stoopider than I thought.

Bitter about glitter

WITH more than 15million Covid vaccines having been given to this glorious nation, I’m pretty sure even the most ardent Remainer has felt the tiniest glee (yes, you know you have) that the UK took its own procurement route, divorced from the rest of the EU, and we are now streets ahead with our jabs programme.

Just one thing. I’m upset to learn that paedophile Gary Glitter, 76, has had his dose.

My daughter, not a criminal (or if she is, she hasn’t been caught yet) has a congenital heart defect, is therefore vulnerable, trains and works with young children, but was told last week she had to wait a further six weeks for her jab.

I’m sure she’s not the only “high risk” patient to be told this.

As it happened, she managed to find a kink in the system and was able to book an appointment online.

She was vaccinated on Sunday and my gratitude knows no bounds.

I have the utmost respect for the rollout and understand it has been unprecedented and complex. But I’d love to have a Gary Glitter explanation.


LISTENED to the divine style guru that is Mary Portas discuss . . . er, style on Radio 4 in the week and how lockdown has affected our behaviour and attitude towards clothes and fashion.

One contributor was positively bursting at the seams at the realisation that she can go days without make-up and she could barely contain her enthusiasm for elasticated clothing.

I listened in silence. Inside, I’m thinking about how the reverse has happened to me. I normally spend my life without make-up and in elasticated garments.

In lockdown I’ve found myself putting on clothes with buttons and zips and applying make-up every so often, because otherwise I would genuinely scare people.

Shirl's allowed

PICTURES of Shirley MacLaine, indisputably one of this world’s finest actresses ever, enjoying a martini as she took herself out to lunch aged 86 was enough to make me want to jump on the OAP express out of town before you can say Zimmer frame.

If that’s growing old disgracefully then I want to be in her gang.

Forget the purple rinse, the beige mac, 200-denier camel-coloured tights and comfortable shoes.

Bring me rum, bright clothes and shocking habits and I’ll die a happy woman.


SUPERWOMAN and mum of three Charlene Leslie helped push a giant dairy lorry up a snowy hill in Cowdenbeath, Fife, during storm Darcy and has been rewarded with a year’s supply of milk.

We women are superheroes.

I’m just waiting for the dark rum lorry to come by my house in a snow storm.

Any day now . . .

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